In almost any business there seems to be all sorts of transitions. Some easy, some mild and some are just tough. My whole life has been about continuing after tough transitions. Very few have been easy. I've learned over the past few years to make every effort to pause before I react. Its a hard lesson and I've still not mastered it. Pausing allows me to stop and think about the situation or issue at hand. Since I started the bakery, there have been several transitions and more than less - unexpected tough transitions.
It's normal to have doubts and fears when starting a business. When I decide to do something, I go all in and push the doubts and fears to one side. With even the best business plans - sometimes things come up that you just can't see coming.
One of my biggest fears was doing this alone. I don't have a support system per say or family to back me up. Its always been on me and I've had to be very independent. One person has been there to help me and I am truly grateful and appreciative which is why I fondly call her my sister from another mister. My second fear was doing this with my disabilities. I don't have the type of disability you can see. I do have physical disabilities. My goal was to get to store front and have help to do the labor intensive part and I run the business. I wanted to prove that people with disabilities can do almost anything. It may just take us a bit longer and we have to work around them but we are capable.
Transitions - starting the business, store front, back to home, paying the store front debt and continuing. These have been the toughest transitions for me in this business.
I managed to get to store front. I pulled out of the store front location March 1, 2015. To this day its still difficult for me to talk about because it was so stressful and traumatic for me, I believe I have PTSD from it. The many factors of dealing with a bad location, bad landlord and feeling like a failure from choosing the wrong location and landlord. Boy did I learn my lesson the hard way! It wasn't until it was too late did I start finding things out. Not to relive or go into too much detail, I will just say that it I had a very difficult time and things were happening beyond my control. Things that really hurt my business, employees and products. A few - no adequate a/c as it was 85 and no heat at all in which we were trying to work at 34 degrees inside!! I finally got permission to fix it in January.
I sought the help of a lady who taught me techniques to use in order to get through it. What I never anticipated was not being in a store front location long term. In retrospect, I should have listened to my gut and followed my intuition and just kept looking. What's done is done and I had to find a solution as to what I was going to do. Because of the issues, it cost me a lot of money. Not only with the location and issues, but I didn't have any time to even start building up. Finding another location with little to no money was just not happening. I had no choice but to take the bakery back home. Now I had to choose how I was going to continue after this tough transition.
The first few things I had to do was to feel what I felt. Angry, devastated, disappointed, hurt, lied to, taken advantage of, alone, depressed, stressed, sick, embarrassed and I felt like a failure. Though I had so many feelings to deal with, there was little to no time. I took responsibility. One thing I knew was that I was going to have to continue through this tough transition - I had to continue. There was no giving up or calling it quits. I had creditors and a loan and I had to take care of the businesses who entrusted me to make good on my debts and I had to get tax debts paid. You see, as a person with disabilities and hardly any equity, I was truly given a chance. Despite the lies and defamation and store front, I had to shift the focus from me to taking care of them. Trying to figure out how I was going to do all this.
Some how, some way, I managed to pay off half the debt in a year. I had not taken any income for myself and I still don't. It all went back into paying the debt. Over the past few years, that's been my focus. This past year was the most stressful of all because sales started dwindling. I believe that its due to a few factors but the one that really stands out is that the bakery is out of site out of mind. The other is that there are now more visible bakeries and the other is my bakery sign is at the location that was demolished.
This year terrifies me. I know how much I have to bring in every month to pay the bills.
Why am I putting my personal business out there when we've been taught that you keep your business to yourself and you have to make it feel like you're doing so well? Because - there are probably so many small businesses going through the same thing. Because - this is real. I'm a small business owner. A lone wolf. A woman with disabilities. And because - there are things that I had no control of that led me to where I'm at and the choices I had to make. This is real life and how I have dealt with the tough transitions - in my perspective - has been to take the high road. My business was built on morals, integrity and honesty and that's the life I also try to lead. But I want others who may be dealing with this or who have had their own struggles in small business and in life to know that you can continue after tough transitions. And if you can learn from my mistakes - do it.
My goal is to get my food truck (how I got that is another story) sold. Pay off the loan because that's the last thing I have left to pay on and start rebuilding my business - saving what I can in the hopes to be in a store front again some day. And you may say - Kathy, you are nuts!! Maybe. But I don't want to let crappy experiences keep me from my dream.
Experiences, especially the ones we experience personally, are lessons we learn. At least they should be. We should be learning from those mistakes. Its how we choose to handle them. It's figuring out what we want to do next. It's finding a way to continue after tough transitions - which could be blessings in disguise.
Hang in there. Keep your head up. Grab a cup of coffee and a piece of cake and sit in the sun. Feel the warmth of the sun on your face and savor the moment. It will all work out.