Stumbling into Summer

A few months ago The Goat and I took a leap of faith and I “shuffled” my business into a larger space.  Let me first explain, I use the word shuffle instead of move, because move implies that we relocated, got a new address, new phone, and had to go all out to notify people of the process.

That’s not what happened.  My shop is in a large historic building that currently houses 4 businesses.  That number has fluctuated over the 6 years we’ve been in the building; businesses start up, expand and move out, or sadly, close and leave.  Through all of the various changes, two things have remained constant, my shop and the coffee shop.  But even the coffee shop is on it’s second set of owners/operators.

A few months ago, a larger space in the same building became available, and we decide to move into it, hence the word “shuffle” and not move.   Because we remained in the same building we were able to keep the same phone number and address.  Although, moving the landline was a comedy of errors.  Did I mention the building is old?

The new location has proved beneficial, and it’s been mostly positive.  The shop now has its own entrance and furnace.  This makes us easier to find, easier to heat/cool, and it’s made having hours of operation that differ from the other businesses much easier too.  The space is quieter, which is a weird thing, as I knew it was noisy in the old space, but I didn’t realize just how noisy until the noise was gone!

But, (You knew there was a but didn’t you?), it’s also increased my stress level.  I’m sure that will eventually change, but for now, it’s a struggle.

You see, with a larger space comes larger bills – rent, utilities, maintenance, fixtures, and even inventory to fill it.  And I knew that going in to it, that’s why it was a leap of faith.  But lately, this has been weighing heavily on me.  Mainly because I see other similar shops in the region seemingly thriving while I feel as if I’m floundering, and I get terribly frustrated by that.

Now I know that like personal social media, business social media is all about image and “keeping up with the Joneses”.  But that doesn’t make it any easier when you’re struggling to pay your bills and you know that your competitors are doing things you should be doing but that you can’t do for reasons that include funds, time, and resources.   All things needed to run a business.

While I have a pretty strong support system, I’m still pretty much a one woman operation.  The Goat is great about helping around the house when needed, especially during the summer when he’s not at his paying job.   I have a great young woman that helps me out on Thursdays, and I’ve got 2 or 3 talented local artisans who help with class instruction.

But the majority of the operations still fall to me.  And while I’m diligent and find that I really do get a helluva lot done, it’s hard to reconcile and accept my frustration when I hear about others who have actual paid staff to help them brainstorm, schedule, man the shop, help customers, and handle all the extra events.

Again,  I knew it was going to be hard work when I started the business.  I’m not looking for a pity party or an “I told you so”, I’m just trying to express this frustration that’s been bubbling up as anger and indifference lately.

As I watch so many similar businesses seemingly succeed at what I’m struggling with – community events and the shops own schedule, commitments of our household, trying to keep up with the trends and changes in the market, and trying to offer the customers the next great thing while maintaining the solid foundation of items they expect – I start to reexamine the big picture.

A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte by Georges Seurat (image from wikipedia)

And the big picture, like a Seurat, looks very different the closer you get to the details.  It’s those details that are causing me to stumble and doubt right now.

While everyone else is looking at things from a distance, and seeing a cohesive image. I’m the one picking the colors for the dots and making that big picture look like something recognizable.  And I feel like I’m running out of the colors that I need, like that picture is going to become something else than what I had intended.

It was a long winter – yes I know it’s June.  It’s been a rainy, grey, damp and cool Spring.  Summer’s schedule is jam packed.  My health isn’t what I’d like it to be right now.  All of these outside factors dim the bigger picture.   I know they shouldn’t, but they do.  They make it very difficult for me to stay motivated and stay positive.  And that lack of motivation and positivity can make it difficult to skip through the sunshine and warmth of Summer (if it ever gets here – more rain and storms in today’s forecast) and to see the progress I have made at the shop.

I’m doing my best to keep the big picture clear and in focus.  And I’m doing my best not to let the little things change it; but some days that’s really difficult.  Maybe I just need to step back more often and not think about the stumbling steps that get me there.  Easier said than done.  But it can probably be done.

And if you’re stumbling too, you’re not alone, it takes a lot of tiny dots of color to make a cohesive picture, and every dot is important.  Some are bright, and some are not.  But together they make something grand.  Whatever the color you’re dealing with today, try to remember that it’s important and part of something much, much, bigger.

So, here I go,  stumbling with a palette of colorful experiences, into Summer…