One thing that no one tells you ( I suppose one has to experience this on his/her own) when starting a business is just how much it can overwhelm you, and despite the excitement, there is always a sense of self-doubt during the process. I'm finding this as I go along...
Business has been brisk, to say the least. There is so much interest in the cheese! I am so grateful for it that I cannot express it without sounding like a lunatic. But I am finding that building this project is quite an endeavor. I decided to put myself and my cheese out there to see if anyone would like it enough to buy it. They did! They do!
And now I am consumed with trying to navigate the waters of setting up a business; getting licensed, building a website, shipping, marketing, production/costs, recipe development, inventory, emails, orders, deliveries, taking phone calls from people who want to order the cheese for their store or restaurant...the list goes on and on...all while trying to keep my sanity.
Last week was brutal and I found that I need to prepare much more than I had anticipated. I ran out of labels. I ran out of bags. I ran out of cheese. I forgot someones order. My kitchen was destroyed. My inventory/order list was discombobulated at best. I was taking orders on Facebook and on my email. I was texting some people and calling others. I was, in a word, frantic. It was not a good feeling.
I made a decent profit on Saturday after all of the deliveries were picked up. According to one well-meaning friend, I should have "felt great after that". But I didn't. I felt scattered and unorganized and somewhat like I had failed. I gave everyone their orders. The cheese was fresh. It tasted good. Everyone seemed pleased and I was able to talk to all of my clients for a few minutes, and I loved that. I love getting to know them. But something was just "off".
I tried to unwind over the course of the evening and into Sunday. But there was and is still a heaviness that I cannot shake. I know that it's because I need to organize everything better so that I can take more control of this thing. Otherwise it's going to control me, which is exactly what has happened.
I have started to write down what is not working so that I can see it and make changes where I need to. I don't want the business side to be so out of balance that I start losing quality of the product I am making. It must remain a slow, small batch endeavor. I will NOT sacrifice quality for a quicker, larger profit margin; that goes against what I wanted to accomplish in the first place.
The cheese is a living thing that I actually make...It is sort of like my child and I find myself taking a very personal interest in each batch. I will never mass produce it. I will never rush it. It must be allowed to develop and become what it needs to become.
I suppose this should apply to my business as well. I've been so worried about rushing to fill orders or ship out samples or make new business contacts that I have let those elements take over. No more. I will nurture it slowly and carefully to ensure that it is on solid ground.
I have decided to deliver only twice per month. The beginning and end of the month seems to be a good fit. We will attend the Neat Market mid-month, and maybe a Chomp dinner, but that will be all. That way, I can have time to culture and cure the cheese. I will have time to breathe and organize in the ways I need to, and I think this will be beneficial to everyone, not just me.
I am so grateful for everything, even the chaos that is on my plate. Its been wonderful and I would not trade what I have learned and continue to learn for anything. I have a long way to go, but I hope everyone will hang in there and continue to walk with me and watch this project grow. I have big plans for it, eventually. I just have to take baby steps and realize that before I can walk or run, I need to crawl.
I am prioritizing and the first thing I am doing is getting a website up and running. This way people can order directly and if shipping is necessary, then it can all be taken care of in one place. It will look a little different from this blog, but I think it will be nice; user friendly and simple. Working on my LLC is also something that is in progress...its going to take time, but I intend on making some headway with this as well. In the meantime, new cheeses are developing and I will post updates here as well as on FB/Twitter (Twitter...never thought I would say that!).
Until next time,