Have you ever thought about your life in decades? Mine would go something like this:
- 0-10: fun, innocent fun
- 10-20: typical teenage angst; diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis; college hijinks
- 20-30: RA remission; first ‘career’ (retail) took me all over the northeast; got married; got divorced
- 30-40: quit the career and started an admin job; got married again; had a baby boy; met Jesus; lost the job; gained a wonderful job working for an organic bedding retailer (working from home!); said goodbye to my father; said hello to RA once again
- 40-this past spring: spent a fantastic eight years in work-from-home career as company grew by leaps & bounds; baby boy grew into a teen; marriage thrived; RA worsened, but life was good
Then, BAM – life.rocks.you. Gut punch.
The wonderful job at the wonderful company went away. In fact, the entire company went away. Bankruptcy. Hindsight is 20/20 and it was easy to see, upon reflection, what had gone wrong. But, still…now what??
I was 48. Suffering from chronic pain that was unpredictable on a daily basis. I went from $50k/year plus commissions down to $295 a week on unemployment. I spent the month of June angry. Really angry. Angry at the owners. Angry at myself. Even a bit angry with God. You know that feeling when you sort of think you’re over something and then it hits you again? In waves so hard, you can hardly breathe? I experienced that for weeks and didn’t know what to do next. I was scared. Anxious. Questioning everything I knew. The future that had once seemed so bright had been ripped out from under me – I was employee #1 and had been promised a piece of the proverbial pie one day. Well, the pie was spoiled. Gone. No pieces to be divvied up.
The company was small and we all pitched in and just figured stuff out. I did the copywriting myself. I wrote many of our blogs. I grew our Facebook page; managed the Yahoo (and then Magento) shopping cart platforms; learning everything as I went, pulling myself up by my bootstraps and just digging in, but so busy that I never really became an expert in anything.
No SEO training. No Google AdWords certification. A simple Excel spreadsheet to track the $30k/month ad budget. No SalesForce. No Hubspot. We barely looked at Google analytics as we were so busy growing to eight brick & mortar locations, alongside the profitable e-commerce site.
My friend, Trish, immediately said when she heard the news “Well, good. Now we can start our own company – I’ll fund it and you’ll be the brains of the operation.” For weeks I wondered “could we really do it?” I knew a lot about e-commerce and some social media – after all, our Facebook page had 78,000 likes; I maintained an active blog; we had a Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest presence; page one rankings for most of our desired keywords. But could I step out of my comfort zone of being the ‘worker’ to being the owner? I didn’t even know where to start with forming a company. We prayed. We got excited. We went for it. Afraid.
“Courage is fear that has said its prayers and decided to go forward anyway.” ~Joyce Meyer
And embarked on a new path. A new dream.
“Most entrepreneurs start a business because they are moving away from some pain.” ~Robert Herjavec (Shark Tank)
We actually started two companies – Backyard Fire Pit Fun and Your Green Loft. Both born from a passion of wanting to sell American-made products only. One geared toward my family’s love of our patio, surrounded by friends and a warm fire pit. The other geared toward what I had known for years – healthy, natural bedding.
There was a lot to learn! From obtaining an EIN number; to registering the name with the state of Maine; forms to be filed with the town; sourcing products; choosing a web site/shopping cart platform; setting up Google Analytics accounts; creating Bing and Google business listings; setting up social media profiles; and more. Honestly, it has been an exhausting past few months. And, let’s not even talk about all the steps and time involved in setting up the actual Shopify store (more on that later)!
And, sales are slow. We’re struggling to bring in money. I’m in constant learning mode – joining entrepreneur-only groups on Facebook; watching endless free training videos from so-called experts; reading Shopify blogs; analyzing and tweaking our marketing efforts; etc. But, at the end of the day, the excitement remains.
I am a CEO. I am a president. I am a woman business owner. Wow. Just wow.
From here, we move forward with faith. We will operate with integrity and honesty. We will endeavor to do all we can to grow our businesses and trust that our needs will be taken care of along the way. The future looks bright and I’m excited once again about what it holds.
This next decade promises to be one of the best yet!
Jennifer Thibodeau resides with her son and husband in the great state of Maine – in the same house she grew up in (and her mom grew up in). She is a lover of wine, Jesus, friends, and family, and is faithfully awaiting the anointing she feels God will bestow on her two businesses. You can say “HELLO” to Jennifer at firstname.lastname@example.org.