Lessons From The First Year In Business


Lessons From The First Year In Business

Y’all, it’s been a year since I started helping families and friends in Milwaukee get dinner on the table. So much has happened in the last 365 days and even more exciting things will come, but for now, please enjoy a few lessons I’ve learned from the first year in business. I’ve also included a few prompts to make sure you’re growing, too.

P.S. I couldn’t do this without you! I have met so many new friends this year and learned about all sorts of interesting projects you are spearheading through our emails and quick chats at drop off. Today I am definitely grateful for you!

1. Providing Relief Is My Calling

My mom was a teacher. My dad was a conversationalist. I make brownies. I’d make brownies all day, every day, but know that I’m ultimately not doing you any favors if I’m only providing an outlet in caloric form.  Truly, making meals to be eaten tonight or down the line is the solution. Put that in meaningful form and you come to the updated mission statement for The Real Good Life. It is now:

Feed THEIR senses. Nourish YOUR soul.

I strive to live by this motto and hope future employees will, too. In the meantime, I want to help you live that motto, too. Enjoy the taste of brownie and truly see your child’s chocolate-y smile. Supply the warm dinner and have time for the comforting words for your friend in need. Listen to the applause as your spouse crosses the finish line and know the celebratory dinner is ready at home.

It’s not rocket science and may not change the world, but helping you make your magic happen is my calling.

Side note: it’s pretty cool to say you’ve found your calling at 37.

What is your passion? Are you living it?

2. It’s All About The Pivot

On that first delivery day last year I presented a business case for The Real Good Life in the Riverwest Dolphin Pool. As you can imagine, I was a little flustered after my first week of putting together meals and mapping out deliveries. Well, when 90 minutes after these activities I was asked to give my elevator speech to a banker, I couldn’t do it. I physically couldn’t do it. The synapses that require a professional to pivot from one task to another had atrophied over my years of half-a$$ed work. I’ve exercised this muscle just as I would my abs. I’ve seen some improvements, but if I tell you I have a headache it’s because of one of this kind of days.

Over the last year, I’ve tried a million different time management and focusing methods since last September.

P.S. Please cheer on a friend of TRGL, The Family Backpack, who has entered in this year’s contest! Good luck Andrea!

Do you have any tips from moving from one project to the next?

3. KNOW Your Limits

If it’s been 52 weeks since I’ve started this business, that means there have been roughly 49 weeks where I’ve had at least one big moment of feeling overwhelmed. (The other three weeks were technically vacation.) Being an entrepreneur is a hard gig. Add a new baby, an active toddler, a house that doesn’t (yet!) clean itself, a husband I should pay attention to every now and then, and my Shiny Object Syndrome, well… It’s a lot.

I want to write more. I want to make a line of greeting cards and ironic t-shirts. I want my own store. I want to ship outside the area. I want to provide lunches to area schools. Oh, and I only want to work Monday-Wednesday. This can happen, right?

Bah! No, it can’t. And I’ve finally admitted this, too. I’ve gotten (slightly) better at focusing on one big thing (and only 10 little things) at once. I’ve also learned when to say no or “that’s enough”. Both of these activities are priceless for a business owner as is still keeping your eye on the long-term goal while stuck in the mire of building the business.

Are you working towards a master goal?

4. You Can’t Be Good At Everything

You guys, if you could see into my head and/or kitchen at about 5:25 on a Tuesday night you would either run for the hills or double over in laughter. I’m totally that I Love Lucy clip stuffing chocolate remnants in my face while I try to clean up after a day of cooking. I’m also thinking about what homework is left for that night and “is it bath night for the girls” and …and… and…

I have to assume every growing business (and/or human) has moments of frantic chaos, right? Right?!?! Well, in addition to saying no to things, I’ve finally found peace with waving the white flag every now and then. I know I’m worthless if I don’t give myself one full day a week totally off from the business. I need to hire help in the kitchen and with deliveries. I hired an accountant to help with the math, probably the hardest part of the job for me. I’ve given up on my house ever being spotless again, but I always try to make time to be with my girls. That is the real good life.

What can you unload that would take the stress off your back?

So this is where I am. I would love to hear how life is going for you and if any of these questions prompted a discussion you’d like to have with a sounding board. I’m all ears if it does! Consider that my birthday gift back to you. Cheers!

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