Sunday, January 20, 2013

Happy 1st Anniversary Red Cupboard Solutions!

As I sit down to write this post, I am one part surprised that it has been a whole year since I launched this blog and one part baffled that it has only been one year since I launched this blog! As with almost any annual review, some things seem to have gone by at rocket speed while others … not so much. In celebration of the year gone by, here are a few of the things I have learned along the way:

Sole-Proprietorship is a 24/7 Commitment

I learned this as a novice sole-proprietor myself, but mostly from the small business owners I have had the pleasure to meet. Their drive is relentless and every free minute seems to fill with mental exercises of strategy design, idea formulation, finding new angles on engaging new customers, and identifying talents, contacts, and trends to leverage. I watched and learned as even a glass of wine at the bar turned into a business promotion with the bar staff. I found that every newspaper or magazine article had some implication for what I was working on – a testament to how prolific social media is in our society and globally. My kids became tuned in to my search for blog topics resulting in their recommendations to me of blog post topics. My own radar developed for environmental issues to blog about as my oldest son volunteered to tweet for an architect friend with a commitment to the environment. And I watch as a small business husband/wife team with social media savvy, multiplies the success of their new restaurant with a solid social media strategy. 

Social Media Accelerates the Discovery or Creation of Market Opportunities

When I started Red Cupboard, I had already gained respect for the power of social media to level the playing field for small businesses. I continue to see examples of that in every small business. Those who embrace it, get the boost. Those who push it off, for lack of time or courage, miss opportunities. The wonderful “ah ha” moment that comes when the redesigned website goes live or the Facebook account gets some traction or the Twitter feed springs to life is such a great experience. I feel lucky to get to piggy-back on others’ successes and feel that great moment over and over. It is especially sweet for owners who haven’t grown up on social media and who find the de-mystification such a great source of professional growth. With that new social media tool in the belt, that business owner feels (rightly so) much better equipped to meet the ever-changing future.

The Dynamics of a Household of 5, Ebbing and Flowing Wildly Over the Course of a Year, Impact the Output of this Small Business

Probably as an offshoot of my first observation, there is nothing easy about running a household and a business out of your home at the same time. Except the commute and the wardrobe! The research for lead generation or industry trends is intertwined with homework oversight, carpools, meal prep, sporting events, and flat-out desire to maintain face-time with teens and snuggle time with 10 year olds. And at any given time, one of the five members of the household has an objective or crisis that sidetracks all else. As my sister in law said as she held her third child (two years before I held my first), “Five is a lot of people!”  And we want each of the three to be their own, individual person, with unique interests and needs. So there is no pattern to follow. Layered with working parents (and I’ll throw in authoring a book just to make sure I’m making my point!) a small business can sometimes reflect what is happening on the home front. But from my perspective, there is no aspect of parenting that cannot be translated to running a business: time management, people skills, diplomacy, goals, prioritizing, picking battles, rewards, punishment, mistakes, learning, achievements, taking turns, showing/fostering respect, asking for help, saying no, pooling resources, and on it goes. At the end of the day, if I have to pick one, I hope I’m a better parent than a businesswoman. But my business skills have improved because I’m a parent.

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