My business started as a health food bakery that operated out of my home.
When we got a spot at our local farmer’s market, I was thrilled – finally a place where I could be face to face with customers! I spent hours upon hours handcrafting every single donut and brownie myself by hand in my teeny, tiny, little kitchen.
I made every snack or treat you can imagine from cookies to energy bars. As we became more well known in the community, I started to notice that we were selling tons of our energy bars. Customers would stop by our market booth on Saturday, grab a donut as a weekend treat, and buy 10 energy bars for the rest of the week. They started asking where else they can buy them if they were to run out mid-week or not have the time to stop at the farmer’s market.
Listening to our customers, I started selling my energy bars in a number of local retailers and our customers went crazy. We could barely keep up with the demand and quickly realized that we needed to keep moving in this direction. I got more retailers, and then even more, and eventually I was selling my energy bars in hundreds of retailers across multiple provinces.
Small Business to National Startup
While I’m very proud of this achievement, it also comes with a ton of fear. I couldn’t help but think: launching a national start up is not something that people like me do. This is something that people with money and connections and a business school education do. My business grew to where it is now through a natural progression. And although I was the one making the decision to grow with the demand, in those early days I never stopped to think about the fact that I was growing a national energy bar company. Only once I made the decision to close down my bakery and focus on the energy bars did I realize: My business had transitioned from a small local bakery to a national start up. Holy crap.
I did not go to business school, but instead worked three jobs just to put myself through university. I had very little money and certainly did not have any executive level connections. While my friends were interning at their parent’s workplaces to add relevant work experience to their resumes, I was working 12 hour shifts at the dollar store.
So when my company started growing, I didn’t feel equipped to handle it. To play at this level, I thought I would need more money and more connections, of which I had neither. The only money I had was what was in my bank account and the small amount I had managed to save for my future. I knew no one in the food industry and didn’t start my career networking with executives (remember that dollar store job, right?). I felt doomed to fail.
I spent the next year in a state of near panic. I thought surely I would run out of money. Or need a connection where I had none. I woke up every day to an enormous amount of anxiety in the anticipation of when the other shoe would drop and I would have to admit that I had failed. My impostor syndrome was weighing me down.
Don't give up
And then one night, laying awake in bed at 2am, I came to a realization. I had encountered times in my business when I needed more money and didn’t have it. What did I do in those situations? I figured out how to accomplish the same thing with less money. There had been times when a connection would have helped me get a sale. What did I do then? I convinced them anyway, or I moved on to a more realistic sales target. I had come up against problems like these and had solved the problem. At no point did I throw my hands up and think “well, that’s it, my business can’t go any further”. No. I rolled up my sleeves and found a way. I realized: I don’t need money or connections to succeed.
I just need to not give up.
Which, if you know me, you know would never happen.
I need to be persistent, strategic, and solve problems. When presented with a problem I don’t know how to solve, I devour all the knowledge I can find on the topic and then make decisions based on what I’ve learned. Sometimes I fumble and sometimes I straight up just get it wrong and have to start again. But eventually, that problem will be solved.
The only way to fail is to give up. So if I don’t give up, I’m going to succeed.
Understanding this has allowed me to have so much more confidence in myself and my business. When faced with a daunting problem, instead of seeing it as a catastrophic potentially business-ending issue, I am now able to see it for what it is: just a problem to be solved.
This confidence has given me the breathing room to tackle new projects head on and ask for business I would have otherwise not approached. It’s allowed me to take my business to the next level knowing that I am capable of handling whatever comes my way.
You are a badass problem solver
This also applies to you. You are smart and capable of finding solutions to problems. Heck, if you even started a business it means you are providing a solution to someone’s problem with your product or service. You are a badass problem solver. And if you blatantly refuse to give up, you will also be successful. Even if you are not successful in one specific thing, it does not make you a failure. It makes you passionate and adventurous and willing to take risks for things you believe in.
You can do this. Stop letting your fear of failure take over your life and start fighting back. Start believing in your ability to handle the challenges that your life and business throws at you. You are a confident capable business person and you’ve totally got this.
If you liked this post and would like to chat one on one about your business, book a coaching session with me today. Head over to calendly.com/bohobusiness to choose a virtual meeting or one in person. See you soon!