I'm trying to keep my business, my triplets, and my waistline under control. I excel at one of those, fail at another one of those, and one is a work in progress. Which is which is day dependant.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Too Little or Too Late? Maybe Neither?

In that last post I talked about how I used to (and still would) take on any number of jobs if we needed the money, and how I think that behaviour is very much about the female instinct to protect. Here's where I start to question if that's a good thing or not, and in fact if that instinct is on some level keeping me back from success.

I recently heard about a cake business not dissimilar to mine which is taking off at a million miles an hour - opening locations all over Australia, investing a shed load of money into marketing, and basically going at it in a very no-holds-barred sort of way. I'll admit that when I initially heard about this (and continue to, they're making massive waves), my immediate reaction was to be jealous of them. Not so much jealous of their success, because I think that remains to be seen, but jealous of the enormous pair of balls they must be hiding in their chef pants. These are balls I do not have.

Let me stop myself for a second and say - I quite often meet people who think that I do in fact posses said balls. So it's probably a matter of perspective, but for the purposes of this post you need to understand that I do not think I have the (basketball sized) balls people seem to think I do. Anyway, to get back to my story, I'm really impressed by this company and how quickly they seem to be rising to the top. I then started to wonder why I didn't follow that same sort of timeline. For all those years, why did I only give 50% to the business? For all those years I kept on cooking part-time, which kept me from devoting 100% of my effort to getting the business off the ground. Even now, sometimes it feels as though it takes me forever to do things which other people achieve in a heartbeat. I find myself thinking I've missed the boat on a couple of industry trends that I really should have been on top of. Why is that?

I think it's because my need to survive is far stronger than my desire to succeed. Let me explain. When I started the business (and until just over a year ago), I was still working as a chef. The reasons for that were simple, we needed the money and I needed to look after my family. Going into the cake business as a full-time thing was way too far out of my comfort zone, because I could not guarantee that any money would come out of it, and I couldn't guarantee that we wouldn't LOSE money out of it - and my family needed money to survive. This was of course especially true given DH's work history. Going into business full time required me to let go of my ability to safe-guard us. So, I put a big fat chef-shaped bandaid over the problem of us needing money and I just worked like hell in two part-time endeavours because I felt I needed to - the 'full time' business would just have to wait. At the time it seemed SO black and white - no way could I go into a risky business venture (which in retrospect wasn't all that risky) when my family NEEDED me to bring in the income to do things like...buy groceries. 

While I am not one to live with regret (because that's a real waste of time, isn't it?) I do sometimes think that if I were not so determined to protect us all, if I'd just said "FUCK IT" and risked my family's security - I'd be so much further along the road than I am... wouldn't I?

Truth is, I don't really know. I don't think it's as easy as I make it seem.  In some respects I'd love to be the "play hard, win hard" sort of person, but in my heart of hearts I know that's just not who I am. I operate out of love, I protect the people I love - and to me those things are non-negotiable. I'm thinking that I'm not really alone in this respect. Like I said in my earlier post, I think the protection thing is inherently female anyway.  So the question remains, then - is the cautionary way in which I do things about who *I* am, or is it the nature of women and their need to protect? Or is it perhaps a bit of both?

Then the question becomes, is being cautionary really the right sort of thing to be when one is owning a business? Or maybe it's the BEST way to be when owning a business. Is having that 'slowly, slowly' safety net keeping me from achieving things, or making me MORE able to achieve things? Am I missing the boat on some things because I'm not willing to make risky decisions and move very fast, or am I in fact ensuring my long term business survival by taking things a little more slowly? I don't think there is a wrong way and a right way to approach business - and for me the 'gently as she goes' method seems to be doing bloody well, thanks very much - but...I still wonder what I might be achieving if I did actually posses the giant balls people seem to think I have.

But then maybe it's all just a matter of perspective.

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