My whole purpose of running is to race. I started to expand on this, but it was getting too long so I extracted it out into another blog post. Another time.
But yes, in short, racing is primarily what motivates me to run. I love it!
This year I’ve tried something different. I’ve controlled my…
I kind of have a crush on my husband. His ability to race based on his current fitness level (and whip out an awesome race after months of injury and mostly steady “comeback” runs) inspires me. I can’t wait to see how this year goes for him! <3
I suppose it’s because I felt a little sheepish after I had to talk about shutting down my wholesale business. After starting this blog and claiming that I was “following my dream” to become my own boss and start a baking business, I had to backtrack and admit defeat.
No, I’m not going to go into all the details as to why I did this. Everything I needed to say, I already said.
But ever since I dropped that side of my business, I’ve felt lost. Part of me is itching to travel and live abroad …. again. It’s been on my to-do list for years, and the older I get, the more I start to fear that I will never have my chance to do it.
So, I’ve been waiting. Waiting for my next inspiration to hit. Working hard at my consulting job so that they’ll continue renewing my contract. I’ve been baking for one cafe, the one who gave me my first break, and I’ve been talking with a few people about side projects that could go somewhere (or nowhere).
Aside from the fear that I am turning 30 this year and still haven’t figured out what to do with my life, I’ve realized recently that I’m okay with that. The best opportunities in my life have always come when I least expected them to, and as cliched as that sounds, it was my curiousity to see where that path led, that eventually brought me more clarity.
So, instead of beating myself up over having failed at my baking business, I’m looking at the positives. I got to give it a try. I got to see what it was like to bake on a daily business, watch it slowly grow and pick up momentum, and although I will say that all gains were relatively small, they happened. This thing really happened. And if part of my dream was to become my own boss, then I succeeded. Yes, the job I chose didn’t work out, but not every one does.
I’m not giving up. And now that I’m still working in market research, I’m realizing that I still have that spark. I’ve been lucky enough to shape my working environment in a way that suits me (for now). It won’t work forever; I get that life continually changes… but today? Today, it works. And, I’m going to keep focusing on things that make me happy.
It takes up way too much energy to be unhappy. Seriously. My life is far from perfect, but whose is?
I’ve always been afraid of tying myself down. It’s the reason why I still rent, I don’t own a car, or really anything aside from a few government bonds and some material things that I use on a daily basis at home (clothes, etc).
Throughout my whole life, I’ve always felt free. It’s one of the many blessings we get to enjoy from being born and raised in Canada.
Yet lately, I’m finding it increasingly harder to untie myself from things. Many dreams that once felt attainable and within reach feel like they’re slipping through my fingers and I’m constantly having to stay afloat. It’s hard. Reality, growing up.. all of those things unlock many doors and bring amazing opportunities. But there is one thing I’ll always miss about being young, and that’s the innocence of thinking that you can be completely selfish and do whatever makes you happy, without worrying about how your actions will affect everyone linked to you. Knowing that you still have your whole life ahead of you to explore. I know I’m still young and I do still have a choice. It just feels riddled with responsibility and sometimes doing what I want to do… would only make me happy. And somehow, that feels wrong.
Being content with what I have has been a constant struggle. It’s time to try harder.
When I was young, I used to tell everyone that I was going to be a creativewriter. Too shy to make friends, I often spent the majority of my time at the library, pawing through the books and hoping to find as many books as possible by whichever author I was currently fixated on at the time. I used to plan out future plots that I’d write in my head and wonder how many children my age would be doing the same thing - only they would be reading my book (it’s my dream, afterall).
My dream faded once I hit high school and I eventually ended up in market research.
Fast forward to a few years into my MR career and I decided that I needed to exercise, what James Altucher refers to as a “writing muscle”. Only, the landscape is a vastly different place than it was when I was a little girl.
I don’t think people visit libraries and walk up and down the bookshelves, trying to spot a book to read (or, did they ever?). I don’t necessarily think there is as much hype around trilogies, series, and up and coming authors. Now, I divide my reading list between fiction and non-fiction. When I was younger, I only read fiction novels. I liked getting lost in their stories. You could argue that I tell stories for a living when I present research. But it’s based on fact, and it’s certainly not supposed to be verbose and rich with content. It’s straight, to the point, and must be actionable to clients. But hey, if I could make a living as a writer, I’d be pretty ecstatic.
The problem is, my idea of what being a published author means, is stuck in the past. I still think along the lines of finding an agent, a publisher, getting an advance and taking a year or two to write my novel. Are you laughing at me?
Good thing James set me straight. I like that he talks about the landscape as it is. I had to agree with him, even though I wished it were the opposite.
Every online journal or blog that I’ve started in my life has always been so that I could have an outlet online. But somewhere along the way, I realized that people could actually make money off their blogs. Huh. Something Altucher talks about here is the evolution of blogs these days - that it’s meant to help you build an audience for you. He also goes on to say that “there’s no money in ads” anymore. I have to say that I’m glad. While I’m sure there are many bloggers who have worked hard to make a decent living off their multiple posts each day (with shiny ads on the side for income), my biggest problem with this trend is the lack of authenticity that comes through in these posts. These days, I can hardly keep my blogs straight - they all post the same pictures, discuss the same topics (whatever will get them clicks and comments), make lists of animated GIFs and recipe roundups. Basically, they are void of meaningful unique content. Of course, I’m generalizing. There are always outliers. But I wonder… when these bloggers realize that they can’t monetize their blogs anymore, will the ones who are in it just for the money eventually exit the space, leaving the good ones behind? I hope it doesn’t continue become an attention-seeking gain.
I just didn’t put in the time and effort, and polished UI into it, to market it to the masses. I’m trying to rectify that with FitFriend, something I’m much more passionate about and dedicated to anyway.
I tried to do a similar thing to Carrot a few years ago, with an app called FoodFriend. It’s severely outdated now (I should really remove it) but the concept remains the same: humorous, borderline crass statements, set to 3 thresholds of daily calorie intakes - below your limit, within 100 of your limit, or above your limit.
These guys have taken it a step further with animations and audio, and much better UI. Kudos Carrot!
Rather than being jealous or envious, it’s actually given me confidence that I was a few years ahead of the curve. I’m not trying to say this to be arrogant, I doubt myself every single day…for once it’s nice to have a small indication that what I was doing was right. I know I only have myself to blame, I left FoodFriend for dead.
A good reminder that good ideas are just one piece of the puzzle. However, without good ideas, there’d be nothing to execute. The two can’t exist without each other.
I broke up with my dream cafe client. The cafe that introduced me to the independent coffee scene. The one that made me appreciate amazing coffee. The one I used to visit every day at work, order the most perfect cappuccino and stare at the big display of baked goods, dreaming about the possibility of selling my baked goods out of that very display.
It took months. Multiple tries, multiple contacts… many attempts to get their attention. After a long courtship, I eventually made it into that display. It was a dream come true.
Unfortunately, I was so focused on getting into the cafe that I didn’t exactly plan what would come next. I’ve already gone into a few details over what went wrong.. poor planning, an unsustainable pricing strategy… day by day, I was losing myself and barely hanging on. I told myself to stick through it, because I had worked so hard to get to that point.
I tried to cut costs where possible, re-arrange schedules, I begged for help from family when it came to delegating whatever tasks I could. I spent months “hanging on” and trying new and different ways to “fix” things. But, eventually I couldn’t deny that my business was broken. I hadn’t set myself up to be successful.
Denial, and eventually acceptance.
And so, after I realized that I was in denial about the actual “success” of my business (looks good on paper and to the outside world, not so profitable thanks to poor pricing strategy), I slowly allowed myself to arrive at the conclusion that I’d have to end things.
The talk: it’s not you… it’s me.
Then I initiated the talk. The one I had been dreading to do for weeks. I just couldn’t quite find the words to fully explain how I was feeling. But eventually, I found myself sitting across the room with the cafe owner, pouring out my heart and trying to stay professional at the same time. It’s really hard to admit you screwed up.
Deep down, I know that I did the right thing for my business. I put myself first, and focused on the bigger picture. But that still isn’t helping this sinking feeling in my stomach go away. It doesn’t help quell the guilt, regret, and fear that I gave up too easily and made a mistake. It didn’t help that the cafe owner was so understanding. He was compassionate, and left the door open for future opportunities once I figure things out on my end. And, he told me that people were really going to miss my muffins.
One year ago, I was slowly planning my transition from full-time researcher, to full-time baker (and if we want to be fancy, we could even throw in “entrepreneur”). I thought I had planned it out as well as I possibly could, given that I was baking before work, working a full day, and trying to fit in a little exercise for my sanity. I thought, as soon as I tell the universe that I’m ready to do it full-time, things would really take off.
Oh, and I didn’t think I needed a business plan.
I told myself to get some actual customers first, and then let things fall out naturally. Note to self: since that approach pretty much never works in my life (have you seen the state of my hair?), I should have known better.
So, I continued to fly by the seat of my pants, sure that this must be what every new entrepreneur does… until I got more customers, had no plan for expansion, no clear goal to work towards, and landed myself into the ever familiar burnout zone where I was working so much that I didn’t have time to think or breath.
I took a little time off at Christmas to collect my thoughts and was able to distill my main mistakes as follows:
Pricing. Oh, how I tried to make that “minor” upfront detail go away. I didn’t take the time to properly price out my product. I didn’t factor in my labour, rent, insurance, and delivery fees. I basically priced my product at a very slight premium over my competition and “hoped” it would eventually even out as I expanded and eventually made it back through volume sales.
Vision, long term goals. I started out on this path with one ideal ending in mind. Then I went ahead and took every opportunity that came my way because it felt better to make some money over no money. I forced myself to bake things that were completely out of my comfort zone because I told myself that it was a cost of doing business in the industry. I didn’t stick to my specialty. Eventually, I found my business taking off - but not in the direction I really wanted it to go in. And I wasn’t happy with it.
Not asking for help. I am notorious for doing this. Perhaps partially because I can be a control freak, and have trouble trusting people. I’m afraid to ask for help, because it’s so hard to find the right help. But I reached my one-person capacity so long ago, and as a result have remained stagnant. Of course, it doesn’t help that my pricing didn’t properly account for getting help.
So, here I am, armed with information on all the things I’ve done wrong, but without a plan to get myself back on track. That’s the thing about being your own boss. You own your success —- and your failure.
It’s time to cut my losses. I need to learn from my mistakes and figure out how I will take that knowledge and apply it immediately with whatever I do next (which is TBD at the moment).
One year ago, I was excited. I had this gut feeling that I was walking in the right direction and I still truly believe that I’m getting there. I’ve been thinking a lot lately, about what I’ve given up to get to where I am today. In some ways, I’ve felt regret about how my life has changed; I’ve lost touch with friends, my family rarely sees me, and downtime is a privilege that I rarely get to enjoy. I think a lot about how much I’ve had to shift in my lifestyle - I can’t go out as much as I used to, I can’t buy things as often as I used to… but life is good.
Every decision I make is truly mine to make. Nothing is permanent and that’s the beauty of it all. I’ve realized that I could live on a lot less — and could even stand to “lose” more if I had to. I’ve learned to appreciate the time I do have with my loved ones. And if there’s something I’m truly unsatisfied with in my life, I’ve realized that I have the power to change it and shape it into something I like better. Not some day. Today.
I’ve always been a big believer in building a product for yourself, then growing it from there. Especially if you’re part of your main target market, there’s no excuses not to have passion and your head 100% in it.
I’m a runner myself, of course I have some idea about what a large chunk (not all) of other runners need in a stopwatch app. Plus there’s nothing I’d rather want to do more, and I’m pretty fierce about that!
In a startup world where conventional thinking shifts 180 degrees every few years to a completely contradictory way of thinking, I’m more comfortable with Nic Haralambous’s way that’s not so in vogue right now:
There were some major business issues that we should have rectified, technical fixes that we could have implemented and ways to start fixing things but I didn’t have it in me to admit out loud that we had a very real problem. We weren’t building a product for ourselves. We were building a product for someone who we thought wanted what we had to offer.
In today’s startup world the conventional thinking is to build something that you think that people might like, get feedback x 5000, and 100% rely on that feedback, then iterate that feedback into your product. Repeat without any questions.
My view is that in essence you should combine any feedback you get with your vision! Instead of relying on feedback to create some kind of vision out of thin air. I’ve worked with a few companies who have fallen for the latter. Because the main person who was driving the company didn’t believe in their own product.
It reminds me of what my sous chef use to always say to me when cooking and prepping the food, “have you tasted it?”. He would would destroy me with sarcasm and guilt if I hadn’t (that’s the cheffing way), so I had quality drilled into me. How can you know that you’re giving somebody a good meal if you don’t taste what you’re serving?