(By Lauren, refreshed Raising Agent)
During, and since, #thefitout I received a huge number of compliments regarding our blog – how frank and honest it was; how it was a great insight into the realities of setting up a business; how it didn’t try to pretend everything was peachy all the time. This is my first post since opening (a lifetime ago on Monday 15 August); a feat I am a little embarrassed by, but also, for me at least, reflects the reality of starting up a business.
The truth is, starting up is hard work and my feet have just not touched the ground. You’re always having to think two steps ahead (i.e. planning your Christmas range in August); you never ever ever stop thinking about your business (i.e. what BBB flavour combination sells the best? Turns out, PB at the weekend, Classic mid-week); have zero social life; can’t remember what the inside of a cinema looks like; are never ever going to make it past 10pm; and develop a massive fondness for starchy carbohydrates to see you through.
You also excitedly look forward to Christmas in the knowledge you’ll have a break, recoup and get to do some social reconnecting, but in fact spend four days asleep as you may have slightly overworked yourself in the run up to the festivities.
Yes, the first four months has been tough. But a good, satisfying, tough. The flipside of all the hard work is the knowledge that I have created this lovely little hub that people really love (something I have to remind myself of when I want to poke myself in the eye because my marshmallows won’t get a shimmy on and set) and on a personal level, has given me the opportunity to see Elizabeth grow up (albeit often fleetingly when her and Supergran pop in).
And I can honestly say it has become a really lovely little hub. We have an ever-growing base of regulars who really value the space we have created (and dig our coffee and cake); we have developed really strong relationships with local youth services with a view to collaborating more in 2015; and we work with great local suppliers. The secret? A great product (keep things simple, and no, we don’t do sandwiches) and a great team (Jessie is an absolute diamond).
Of course, like everyone, there are lots of things I want to improve on for 2015 (delegate more, be less of a control freak, eat more vegetables) and it already looks like it is going to be an exciting year for us. We have a few events already in place and scarily, tentative plans to grow (which if truth be told, has been what has been keeping me awake at night throughout December, not the shedload of mince pies to bake). Will it be easier next year? Doubtful. Will I maintain a better work-life balance? Unlikely. Will it still be as much fun? Hell yeah.
Happy New Year cake lovers, see you on Saturday 3rd xx