Small business ownership has many benefits, triumphs, and joys. Building a business from the ground up stretched me in ways I didn’t expect to be pulled. Fifteen years in, I’m grateful for the education, the experience, and the place I’m at with my company today. An MBA program may have been shorter but not as broad in scope. Who could have predicted some of the crazy situations I have been in? Some of them reminded me of an I Love Lucy television episode–she was always in over her head. I can relate.
One drawback to being a business owner/entrepreneur is the hours. I can work any 24 hours in a day, right? I consider thinking, brainstorming, and worrying about my business to be part of my workday. And I do all of those things 24/7. I realize that business ownership looks very easy and glamorous from the outside. I thought an article series about what business owners give up in order to run their businesses might be eye opening, educational, inspiring, or at the very least, properly inform aspiring entrepreneurs. It’s not really the equivalent of the hand-painted ‘Beware, Keep Out’ sign at the edge of the Haunted Forest, but maybe more like a ‘Stop and Think About It’ banner. Here’s part one:
Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday.
It’s all about food and family, two things that go so well together. There are no gifts to buy, just a bottle of wine or a hostess gift to bring for the person who slaved over the hot stove and oven.
I even wanted thanksgiving dinner at our wedding, but was quickly vetoed by my family in favor of lasagna and poached salmon, not bad dishes for wedding fare 20 years ago, but I secretly wished for my favorite meal. I did end the day with the love of my life becoming my partner for life, so it all turned out okay.
Over the years I’ve realized that the traditional turkey/stuffing/gravy/cranberry meal has a definite message for me. It says, ‘I’m home’, and the funny thing is, it doesn’t matter where I enjoy this meal, I get the same feeling.
In the years since I moved out of my family home at age 18, I have eaten turkey dinner cooked by others, cooked by me, and served to me exactly two times, at a restaurant. Both of those times were because of my business. That’s just typical for the entrepreneur.
The first time I ate Thanksgiving dinner at a restaurant was in 2002. My husband and I were spending Thanksgiving day putting the final touches on Atelier, our second salon, due to open the next day, which was Black Friday. At 7 pm, we finally looked at the clock and realized that we had no plans for dinner–Thanksgiving dinner. I was exhausted, covered in dust, and in a bit of a panic at the thought of having scrambled eggs or cereal for my ‘holy’ dinner, so we decided to try a nearby restaurant. Calling half dozen restaurants, we found them closed or closing within minutes. Our only option was a Marie Callender’s chain restaurant, which was open just 30 more minutes. We drove over, arriving with 10 minutes to spare. It was quite delicious, but I was a bit disappointed at having to diverge from family tradition for my business. I also knew we had no choice.
The second time we ate turkey dinner out at a restaurant, we were recovering from a sewer pipe break in our office. Yuck. The actual leak happened the night before, but we were still cleaning up, and there was no way we were getting home to cook. Our server, which was onsite at the time, was ruined, and our computer systems were down. (We have since gone to an offsite server–you only need to learn that lesson once) So we were scrambling to get the system back online by the next day, which was unfortunately, again, Black Friday. My family very graciously decided to meet us for dinner out at a restaurant nearby, which definitely took a bit of the bummer out of the day. Since the leak was the landlord’s responsibility, they covered the cost of the meal, but without a dinner reservation, the restaurant was low on many items, and we had to sit outside where it was cold. There we sat, eight of us, bundled in our coats and scarves, eating turkey wings, small slices of turkey breast, and whatever desserts were left over after the people-who-planned-ahead had been served. Sigh.
Tonight is the third time we’ll eat out. It’s for a perfectly good, normal reason. We don’t want to cook. More specifically, everyone in our family is out of town except for hubby and I and one set of parents. It just seems easier for just four people. And it’s voluntary. The decision was ours. Hurray for our team.
I have given up a couple of Thanksgiving dinners in the way I preferred them–at home with my family. But I quickly learned that a business owner has to give up certain things for the business. It’s what we sign up for, knowingly or not. Any entrepreneur needs to understand it, and be okay with it. There’s no walking away or putting the critical things on hold while dinner is served. I’m not bitter about it; it’s just how it is.
I’m sure that when I take that first bite of turkey/stuffing/cranberry, I will get that ‘I’m home’ feeling. Because it really isn’t the food itself, it’s the feeling of the day and the people we’re with.
And since I didn’t have to cook, I spent the morning doing something very important: I speed walked a 5k Turkey Trot for charity–with some of my employees. But it wasn’t a workday. It was exactly what I wanted to do. All in all, it was a nice way to spend my favorite holiday. And this year, I made exactly what I wanted to make…reservations.