Carried by Community : 5 Years of The Real Good Life
On September 13th of this year, we will celebrate our 5th anniversary as a company. It’s hard to believe while also truly humbling and incredible, especially when viewed in light of THE YEAR the entire planet has experienced! As we enter into our fifth year, we have zeroed in on the importance of community. To us, it’s not just a concept, but the actual lifeblood of everything we do.
The TRGL staff is so much more than a group of people who work together and we’ve come to see our customers as neighbors and friends who we have the honor of cooking for each week. In celebration of this milestone, we thought it might be fun to look back on some of the past years to see how we have marked the occasion with our community!
Lessons from the First Year in Business – September 13, 2017
- Providing Relief is My Calling – 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 All About the Pivot – (note from 2021: Ha! If only we knew……)
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.
- Know Your Limits
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.
- You Can’t Be Good at Everything
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.
Lessons from Year Two – September 12, 2018
Two years ago I had 133 servings and 7 stops on my meal delivery to do list. I was in a church kitchen by myself. Groceries were purchased at the regular grocery store in regular grocery store quantities. I felt haggard, but only worked 2.5 days a week.
Last year, Brooke, The Real Good Life’s first employee, had her first day on our first anniversary. We had 202 servings and two delivery routes to manage. I was still entering all the addresses and phone numbers into my phone by hand and guessing at the best routes for those 23 stops.
This week we (and by we, I mean a team of four kitchen rockstars and two delivery drivers and little ole me) tackled 811 servings and 69 orders. Holy cats. I’m still overwhelmed, but now it’s my own fault and my own time mismanagement. This team is knocking out their duties in the most delicious ways and still leaves time for lunch on Wednesdays.
A Year in the Life of a Growing Business – February 12, 2019
It’s been a year. Oh, what a year. A year ago we (and by “we”, I mean Brooke and I) had our grand opening party at our new space on North Ave. People ate brownies and meatballs and cheers-ed with hot chocolate. Friends caught up and kids snuck another cheese ball. My pseudo older brother stopped in and an old, old friend of my parents came in to tell me they would have been so proud. While they missed the main action, my girls got to see mama in her element. Man, it was a great day.
We have served moms, dads, grandmas, uncles, businesswomen kicking ass, widowers taking care of themselves. Businesses treating their customers and employees. Grandmas taking care of their daughters and new grandbabies from afar. What an honor.
A couple weeks ago when it was bitterly cold out and the mail shut down and school was closed, the whole team showed up with smiles on their faces (and hats and scarves and three shirts) to make your food and ensure it got to you in a timely fashion. I spent the next five days thinking “are they crazy? Why did they care so much – it’s only food!” But you guys, it’s not.
We’ve got a family going on here. The immediate family of my staff and regular customers and extended, of all y’all that come and go. Each and every one of you have made this past year (and the 15 months before that) one of the best of my life. Perhaps the most stressful, too, but hey, that’s how family works. We are more full because of each other (and the chocolate chip cookies). We are better because of each other.
Year Five – Community Coming Through During a Global Pandemic
Never in a million years did we think that our fifth year of business would be in the midst of a global pandemic that would claim the lives of so many multitudes of people across the country. No one could have prepared us for what it would be like to try to navigate the day-to-day operations of keeping the doors open when literally being in the same space as someone with the virus could ultimately prove to be fatal.
At the same time, we became more convinced than ever that creating scratch-made meals to deliver to our neighbor’s door was crucially important. Suddenly trips to the grocery store fell under the umbrella of “calculated risk” and we have not for one moment taken it for granted how bringing meals to doorsteps was also delivering relief and the ability to stay just that little bit safer.
Our community has carried us through one of the most stressful times for small businesses in modern history.
As we celebrate our fifth anniversary in the year 2021, we aren’t focused on numbers and percentages of growth as much (although we are incredibly grateful that those numbers have continued to increase), but we are zeroed in on the importance of community to our mutual survival and ability to thrive in the face of unprecedented circumstances.