Late last fall, I bombed through the front door and made a startling announcement to my family. Considering we have eight kids and any big news from me usually meant pink or blue would soon be a staple color in the house again, they all seemed a little nervous when I told them to sit down. When I blurted out that I had just started a small business with my good friend and neighbor, the reaction I got was a little mixed.
There were many questions about what, when, and how this new business had unfolded, but the one I really found interesting was when they asked “Why would you want to do this, Mom?”
As a busy mother I’ve always admired “those people” who came up with a unique idea and then turned it into a business. How many times I’ve uttered “why didn’t I think of that” to myself over the years. Well, within the past six months my new business partner and I have found out what it means to be “two of those people”—who come up with a clever idea (or so we think) and turn it into an actual business.
We both have a newfound respect for inventors and small business people because now that we’ve turned our idea into a reality, we have realized that although it’s very exciting, it’s certainly not as easy as it looks especially when you’re already handling the hectic 24/7 job of raising a family, running a household and trying to find the time to brush your own teeth every day. (Never mind flossing!) But that doesn’t mean it’s not possible either.
Luckily, when you put two determined mothers together who aren’t afraid of a little (a little?) hard work and who accept that committing to a new business means other things must slide—yes, that means we no longer have time to vacuum our curtains or make fresh-squeezed orange juice for breakfast, great things can happen. For us, that great thing has been launching an innovative company from a simple idea that we shared one day as we were taking a walk through town.
This walk just happened to take place after I dropped my 3-year old off at nursery school for the afternoon. I certainly couldn’t justify going back home and folding laundry or worse sitting on the couch watching a skin-care infomercial so taking a walk with a good friend was really the only option left. Not only would we get a few miles of exercise under our belts, but because we’re so apt at multi-tasking we knew we’d be able to tackle several conversations at once, which would then free up time for a refreshing beverage after the walk. (Its true– blondes do know how to have more fun.) What we didn’t know was that one of those conversations would soon be changing how we’d be spending the rest of our “free” time for the next several months and then some.
To put it simply, while we conversed back and forth about all the ups and downs we were faced with in our lives we realized that we were still able to find something, no matter how small, to laugh about. They say “laughter is the best medicine,” for a good reason. Scientific research indicates there are real physical and emotional benefits from a good chuckle. Laughter stimulates the release of beneficial hormones and lessens the effects of mental stress. We couldn’t agree more. Hence, our idea to combine a much needed laugh with something nearly everyone enjoys—chocolate, gave way to our new business where we would create premium chocolates and include funny jokes inside of each one.
That was the easy part—acting on it was the challenge. So after many a meeting at our kitchen islands or even better, the bus stop, we laid the groundwork for creating the product we had dreamed up. Did I mention we usually had kids on our laps or gently tugging at our shirts with a zillion interruptions while all this took place? We did! Next came the taxing weeks filled with business meetings, lawyer appointments, building our website, financial pow wows, marketing strategies interlaced with food shopping, laundry, feeding the dogs, helping with homework, cooking dinner, carpooling our kids around, working our part-time jobs, and trying to remember our husband’s names. Determination doesn’t begin to describe the taste in our mouth (other than delicious chocolate, of course) that we inhaled right from the get-go.
And finally, many, many grueling hours later– it happened. The idea was produced, the legal documents were signed, the business plan was etched, the website was launched, and our product made its grand debut right after Thanksgiving. Don’t ask what our homes looked like during those first busy weeks, it’s all a blur. Every precious second was put to good use and if you ask either of our families what they thought, they all had something different to say.
Our younger kids wanted to know if this idea would make us rich. (You don’t think we’re in this for the money do you?) Some wondered if they could work for us. They also harbored a bit of resentment from time to time, not to mention we were told that we were getting to be grumpy. (Oh, that hurt—two ladies who have a business centered on laughter cannot be given the reputation of grumps.) But then we had our “shining moment” that split second when we unveiled our packaged product to our friends and family who knew we were working on a top-secret business idea and we saw how proud everyone was of us. We really believed we had a hit on our hands and we now had our family’s support as well.
Nearly six months later, we are pleased (and exhausted!) to have grown our business in such a short amount of time and have even started creating a new product line. This entrepreneur thing isn’t for everyone and although we are known as a “small business” there is nothing small about the amounts of time, effort and certainly passion that we’ve invested—but that is what makes the entire process so well worth it. Now there is no question as to why we launched a new business nearly on the spur of the moment–in our minds, it would’ve been far worse to take our idea and just file it away for “maybe some day”—because that day may never have come. As Alfred North Whitehead quotes, “The vitality of thought is in adventure. Ideas won’t keep. Something must be done about them.”
Copyright 2009 Cheryl L. Butler