The Second Year In Business | Some More Things I've Learned Along The Way
Okay, year 1 seemed to fly by and with the “honeymoon” stage of business underway, I thought it may level out. Nope. Year two has gone by just as freaking fast and when I reflect back it’s insane what we have gone through, what we have accomplished, and most importantly what we have learned. This past year has been much different than I would have ever expected: we closed down childcare, collaborated with Pressed, pulled back from the collaboration from Pressed, went from 1 full-time and 1 part-time employee to 2 part-time employees to 1 part-time employee, and gained another private office.
Whew. That was a mouthful. Last year, I had a lot of fun reminiscing about The Hatchery’s first year in business, so here we are for Year 2. Take a look at the biggest lessons Year 2 has taught me.
1. Less is sometimes more
Closing down childcare, adjusting our membership offerings, collaborating with Pressed, and ending our collaboration with Pressed a little earlier than planned. Those are four massive changes that stick out to me (non-employee wise!). You can read the blogs that go into more detail, but I’ll cover the emotions around all of them here.
I loved hearing toddlers laugh with other kids while mama was getting work done. Offering childcare was a huge part of who we are and what we believe in. But after looking through our financials, our projections, and our space set up it was clear that it wasn’t the best decision to continue offering childcare. (More about that here.) In order for us to be open and be the best coworking space, we had to make a business decision, not an emotional decision.
We also took a look at how our memberships were set up. With the adjustments, we made it super simple for members to understand their options and kept them reasonably priced and simple for us to manage. This was a big do to but has made life so much simpler! (insert breathe of fresh air here).
In November, the opportunity to collaborate with Pressed, a beautiful space downtown, came to the table. This was a huge opportunity, as it gave us a chance to reach another market without having all of the typical overhead. We did all the things (we took surveys, conducted interviews, started marketing, hired another part time employee, created processes, booked tours, gained members, and did a couple of events.)
Fast forward about 5 months. From the outside it looked great; beautiful space, amazing collaboration opportunity, new members, and woohoo - so perfectly instagramable! But behind the scenes we were not hitting the growth numbers and my personal stress level was through the roof. Not too many of the things on my “to-do list” were bringing me joy. I just felt rushed all the time. I used the skills I gained from closing down childcare and separated emotion from business and made the decision to close The Hatchery at Pressed. I believe that showed growth as a person.
Simplifying and running a slimmer business has made things so much easier!
2. Slow down to go fast
I first heard this phrase when I was running my networking marketing business. The founder used to say it all the time, and honestly, I just nodded and smiled. I pretended like I knew what he meant, but really, this just sounded like a silly oxymoron. Well, “slow down to go fast” really slapped me in the face this year.
Before The Hatchery even opened, Raigan and I spent hours to create the orientation packet, detail the terms of service, build a new member onboarding guide, outlining the 24/7 keycard process, and creating templates for recurring emails. We felt productive and accomplished with all of our hard work. When we opened on day 1, we felt like we already knew what we were doing.
This last year meant a lot of new processes was needed. We switched CRM platforms, started having multiple events each month, changed printers, and a few other things...okay, a lot of other things. Sometimes we created a written process. Sometimes we did not.
We did not create a process for events even though we were putting on at least 3 events a month. THREE. That doesn’t even count the promotion on 8 different platforms. It all lived in our heads, so it didn’t seem like a big deal. Then, I hired a new community manager who needed to be trained on the process for events.
Guess what was not in place: the process for events.
Guess what took a solid day to create? The process for events.
Guess how long this process was? 6 pages.
Guess who was really annoyed with themselves as we were creating it? ME!
If I would have slowed down to complete and write out the process, I could have handed it to her and said, “let’s do a fake event to get you familiar with the process and then we can see where there are any holes or where you are getting hung up.” She could have been empowered and learned without direct training. Then, she could have trained the next community manager who came after her.
I learned that anytime I have to stop and create a document for the business (i.e. a spreadsheet to track potential new member or an internal process), I remember this phrase “slow down to go fast.”
Slow down, Amanda. Slow the F down.
3. Have a Support System
I talked about this in the first year and I felt it on a whole other level this year. This second year has made me reach out more to find those who are walking in my shoes. I love my current support system like no other - but this year I have had to add people. People that are beyond who I confided in as we were getting our space launched. Those that have had to take a close look at their business to see if they would stay open. Those who have been in business for more than 5 years (congrats to not becoming a statistic!). This is a little scary because you have to be vulnerable. Or at least I wanted to be. I wanted real, raw answers to my questions and my concerns. And I didn’t want to be judged for actually asking hard and personal questions. Luckily those who I found didn’t judge, but opened up about their journey to share what they have learned and the hard decisions they had to make. Some hard conversations were with REDI, Proximity Space, our bookkeeper, bankers, my business coach, Hoot Design Co., and veteran business owners here in town. I am so grateful for their time!
The other thing I did to increase my support system was hire Kelly Howe with Kelly Howe Coaching. I’ll talk about this more in a bit, but please, please make the time to work on yourself. If you don’t have the mental capacity to support yourself - well, good luck.
4. It’s okay to cry
(Enter Kelly Howe.)
I was raised to be a strong, country girl. There were no frivolous tears in my house or on the softball field or learning to drive a stick shift. No sir. But, here’s the problem, when I’m pissed, annoyed, overwhelmed, or scared, I cry. Yep, I do. And there are 3 places where it all comes out: in Kelly Howe’s office, at church on Sunday mornings, or when I’m with Sean. These are my safe places.
I met Kelly Howe right after my first panic attack. It was terrifying, and I thought something was really wrong. I met and hired Kelly. Kelly is a coach that specialized in a technique called Tapping. (I’m not even going to try and explain it, so you can read more here!) I saw Kelly for 5 sessions (and planning to renew asap) and learned so much about myself. Mostly, I learned that my childhood experiences impact who I am today. I know you’re thinking, “duh, Amanda,” but this all relates to being the boss of my business and why I get anxious when it comes to cash flow, why I don’t let myself take a break without feeling guilty, and why I freak out when we talk about building a new home.
It’s zero fun going through crappy memories I’ve tried to repress but feels amazing to come out the other side. We all have so much baggage. If we don’t take care of our own baggage, it’s going to be really hard to get to the best version of you. And the best version of me is having a healthy family life and running my business.
I’ve talked openly about Sean and I going to counseling to make our marriage the best it can be and stay ahead of anything we may not see coming. And I’m super excited as it seems like therapy/counseling is becoming something people are not afraid to go to. It doesn’t mean you’re broken - it means you’re taking the initiative to become a better you. .
So, I’m giving you 100% permission to cry. Guys, you too. There is no need to hold it in when you don’t have to.
5. Get involved, but with what serves you
I will 100% admit that I have FOMO. I want to be everywhere, know who everyone is, and be where the action is. But, I also have a husband, a 4-year-old, a dog, and a business to run. You can see where this is going, right? This past year I resigned from a committee, froze my membership for a brief period with a networking group, didn’t rejoin an organization I was on before, and most importantly stopped feeling guilty for it. What happens when you’re in meetings for a good chunk of the week? Your task list doesn’t exactly get accomplished. It continues to build and you just want to set it on fire and hope for the best. Just kidding - well just about the last part. I found myself not being fully present at some of these meetings and realized it was fair. It wasn’t fair to others there or to me. Is it tough to not be involved in ev.ver.ry.thing out there? Ummm, yes, yes it is. But, am I mentally happier? 100%. I loved each one of those things and saw benefits, but I also had to look at what took priority.
You also have to look at what tasks are moving you towards your goals. If I’m allowing networking and committees to take most of my day and I’m not out selling memberships or sponsorships then we’re not going to hit our goals to make this space stay open. This goes back to my first point, less is sometimes more.
6. Burnout happens.
Burnout. Burnout is the truth behind the lies of “I’m fine!” “Things are great!” “It’s crazy as always!” “Just that business owner life.” Beyond the fake answers, pure exhaustion, and questioning your why, burnout stares you in the face.
Then, someone tells the truth. Business is freaking hard. Sometimes there are more bad days than good, and sometimes there is an external obligation to always be representing your “brand” instead of airing all of our dirty laundry!
I’m human though. Yes, I’m a mom/wife/sister/friend/community member/business owner/ambitious women too. But sometimes it becomes too much. We need to start allowing ourselves to stop.
Stop to see how we’re feeling.
Stop to make sure we’re actually pursuing what we originally set out to do.
Stop to make sure we’re not getting wrapped up in what society thinks we should be doing.
Stop and put down our phones and close the laptop.
None of us really know what we’re doing, but for some reason, we think everyone else has their shit together and we’re the only ones running around like a hot mess. #Nope Truth is, we’re all trying to figure it out.
When you’re feeling way too overwhelmed and feel like you’re on the cusp of burnout, reach out. When you’re feeling some burnout - reach out. If you’re feeling lost - reach out. But more importantly, if you can tell someone is covering up a tough time with “I’m fine” - be respectful, but lean in and make sure they’re really okay.
People have done that for me, and I’m truly grateful.
7. Know your worth
“If we could see the value in ourselves that other people see in us, we would be unstoppable.” -- Amanda’s friend who tells it like it is, Callie
For the most part, I am the face and voice of The Hatchery. But honestly, I don’t 100% love the limelight. I like to push the limelight on other people to showcase what they are doing and am okay being in the back guiding them and cheering them on.
I’ve been encouraged to start coaching or to promote “me” as a big resource to go along with all the things we’re doing at The Hatchery. The more we host the ever-so-popular Feedback Welcome, the more I started to realize all the things I’ve learned and could pass on. I’m not ready to go down this road, but I am staying open to the possibility.
Why was I so reluctant before? I was placing my value as “Amanda Quick, owner of The Hatchery”. Not, Amanda Quick, incredible human with lots of experience. I was equating my value to The Hatchery’s bottom line on our balance sheet. And let me tell you, that is not the number I thought it would be based on our business plan projections (yet!) and therefore didn’t see the value in what I have done.
After many conversations with experts, business owners, Kelly, Sean, and a whole host of trusted friends, I have realized that these two things are not equal. The fact that I have actually taken action on my idea puts me ahead of so many that never took a step. Some will laugh that someone actually pays me for my time and some won’t. That’s not up to me - and that’s a daily conversation I have with myself!
So there you have it: Year 2. Another wild ride where I have met so many incredible people, learned a lot about myself, and learned a lot about business. My goal in sharing my journey is to help just one person know that they’re not alone. To know that there will be bumps, bruises, and pivots along the way.
There will be tears...even if you’re tough.
There will be burnout...even if you think you can talk yourself out of it.
You will miss something...even if you planned it all out.
But this is the truth - you’re good enough. You are working hard enough. You are doing enough. And, when you take a step back, you can see the amazing progress you’ve made along the way and be truly proud of yourself. I’m grateful to be able to say these words to those who walk in our doors each and every day!