When I founded my first business, my packaging design company Pearl Resourcing, I worked day and night, 7 days a week to build from scratch a 6 figure business during the first 2 years.
I wanted so badly to grow faster and live out all the ideas I had read in books and knew were essential for becoming a business owner (and not just an employee of my business). So I worked like a dog… and sold so much… that I couldn’t deliver on it all and be able to sleep… so I hired employees as the growth process I read about in books said.
Those employees needed paid subscriptions for email and design software… they needed computers and parking spots… and then lunch breaks and time off. Costs increased.
They also needed training which took all day long… and management on issues they didn’t understand yet. Every minute I spent managing, I couldn’t spend selling. Sales decreased.
Soon within 5 months of the 3rd year I had LOST tons of money… $75k to be exact. More money than I had ever been in debt before!
HOW I HANDLED IT
I panicked when I realized that I actually had gone into debt and wasn’t successfully “scaling.”
I KNEW I was doing all the RIGHT strategies – I wanted to understand and fix it. Suddenly I couldn’t sleep well without waking up in a cold-sweat. I listed my house on Airbnb and slept on my office floor without my landlord knowing. I tried every way to keep this business alive and to keep my employees with jobs.
I had poured my HEART into these employees… and building these processes… it was what I thought was the core of my business. I didn’t want to fire people or stop doing parts of the business that I knew were important to scale in the long run. I felt like I would be destroying the only asset I had left from these really hard 3 years of work.
I didn’t want to let these employees down. These people felt like a part of my business and like best friends in the struggle for my dream. They felt I had given them their dream job in Pearl because I had made it so fun. They had given a lot to this goal and cared.
Finally multiple mentors and family members convinced me… the business couldn’t survive without shrinking expenses, laying off employees and cutting off business services I had. But they helped me calculate the hopeful news – that if I did, I might be able to go back to being cash positive. In fact there was a possible chance to pay off the debt, 💸 start to keep profit… and maybe even have time to go to the gym again.
I almost threw up doing it… but I let almost everyone go but a few contractors who worked only when the job was needed/paid. I sold stuff, canceled memberships and emails, continued to Airbnb my place… and more.
It was hard every single day when I was in debt because I felt like a failure (with my faith in myself as a strategist shaken). As I continued, I couldn’t tell if I was making progress as a business owner, I just stayed focused on profitable activities.
Slowly but surely… a year after cutting back… I had paid off the debt and was making money again.
In part because expenses were low. Plus my focus was on the biggest leverage piece of my business (acquiring the right new clients) so revenue went up.
And yes those original employees I let go of were mad. They no longer loved me like they did before. But the good news is they all moved on and found better jobs than they had before I had hired them. It was like God or the Universe already had things planned for them. Maybe me holding on to them was stopping them from receiving their next big break…
Once I made my last payment I felt relieved. I could think creatively again and felt hope return.
I suddenly looked around and shockingly I realized wow! I was managing about 80% (MOST) of the business I had built earlier when I had all of those employees. However I was doing it with less resources so I was profiting. Then I was able to hire people… but I did it very slowly and thoughtfully, only when the need arose. Everyone working for me felt better managed and clients felt more clear of my expectations.
It was then that Pearl became profitable again that I realized important lessons.
THIS APPLIES TO YOU
WHAT I LEARNED: Holy cow! The scaling process works… it just needed to be done so much slower than I had thought. The process of cutting back… isn’t a failure, it’s an important part of healthy growth!
This applies to you in these ways:
1. Surviving is one of the phases of getting to thriving. If you have revenue and are still in business, you’re doing BETTER than most other people who start a business. In fact “HEY! You’re doing a damn good job!” Many people wish they were where you are. Just because you haven’t arrived… doesn’t mean that you won’t.
2. If you don’t feel successful yet – maybe a small micro change can help you shift from tired to feeling joy. Sometimes the only thing that needs to change is either:
A.) Shift your perspective of your season and be patient – We all want to grow fast and you usually know what you want to do. But good things take time. So give it more time and have some patience while your hard work pays off. Success in the form of margin doesn’t happen overnight and it happens in seasons after a lot of hard work.
B.) Look for things you should be cutting back on internally and cut it out – Look to find what you might be able to reduce in order to find more “margin” (leftover) for you in your business so you can feel more successful. This could look like reducing expenses, the number of employees, subletting your warehouse to reduce rent, leasing out your kitchen in the evenings to other entrepreneurs, or selling fewer services/products so you can focus on selling your more profitable ones.
YOUR NEXT STEP
Is there any action you think you should do after reading this email? Perhaps an action in your business that you have been ignoring because of your desire to “be there already/have arrived” or because you “feel committed”?
If yes – well, go schedule that action today! Take time to shift your perspective of your season and be patient… and review your commitments to find which ones you can make commitments to create margin.
I hope my story of failure helps encourage you to see opportunities for your success in your own life! You are doing so much better than you are giving yourself credit for.
MORE ABOUT START TO SOLD
Whether it’s packaging, product development, brand design, marketing, manufacturing, distribution, or operations and logistics, you’ll get the in-depth, relevant and actionable advice and resources you need, here at the Start to Sold Blog (https://emilyannepage.com/StartToSold/) OR YouTube Channel: (https://bit.ly/3cDZS39)
MORE ABOUT EMILY PAGE
Emily is CEO of Pearl Resourcing and has managed and launched multiple 7-figure brands in Costco, Williams-Sonoma, Kroger, and Amazon. She’s bringing you the expertise, resources, and mentors you need so that you can develop products and make them sell. She also offers business growth consulting (https://emilyannepage.com) and free advice for brand owners through START TO SOLD (http://starttosoldpodcast.com)