Angie McKeown

              I'm only me, but I'm very good at it


Staying steady on the rug

One of the toughest things I am finding about running this new business is keeping my confidence levels up.

I am a perfectionist, and that’s part of why my product is at the standard it is at. It’s far too easy to be constantly critical; of the product, the business, of myself.

I am still too small to have regular staff, so there is a lot that is falling by the wayside while I focus on doing what I can to keep moving forward. I need to get to the stage where I can afford things; like living expenses, product, process and service improvements, etc. It’s hard to keep focussed on the positives, and to ever feel like you are doing enough. It’s hard to achieve the feeling that, for now, what I am doing is okay.

I have a hundred great ideas for things I would like to try, new products, fun marketing ideas; but there is no budget, time or logistical support for spending time looking at those things while the core of the business needs attention. A lot of people have a lot of great suggestions for things I should follow up or try out, and I get the feeling they sort of wonder why I haven’t.

And then there are the things I am doing. Let me tell you, there is not one thing that works smoothly the first time. Every aspect of my packaging took three times longer, and cost three times more than I hoped. Some of that is finding the right people. Some of it is trying out ideas which didn’t work and needed adjustment. Some of it is coping with problems or delays in delivery, or quality. None of that can be easily planned for.

Every day I am dealing with all of this, in many different areas, with a variety of people. Constantly questioning, tweaking, fixing, improving, coping, moving to the next thing. Having no staff presents other, less tangible problems, too. There is no team to share the burden of decision-making, no person to bounce ideas off, nobody to offer encouragement or solidarity in a particular course of action.

I value criticism. I know I really need it to move forward, as I don’t have a team to be my sounding board. Unnecessary criticism is what floors me.

Do you have to point out the tiny flaw in the graphic design? I know it’s there and I can’t do anything about it until the next reprint.

Do you get a kick out of saying my strategy will never work long term? It was a short-term strategy to cope with short-term logistics issues.

Do you enjoy preaching to me about how I should be speaking in more Victorian language to maintain legitimacy? I thought you had a genuine question about the tea, not a gripe that I don’t fit into the role-play in your head.

The moments when you feel like something you do is enough are few and fleeting. It takes very little for someone to pull the rug out from under you. I know my product is great, and I believe in my brand. But I’m still not sure how to stay steady on that rug.

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