The sometimes lonely path of the independant small business owner

What Keeps Me Awake at Night

This ‘Inside The Oven’series was developed in 2019, in our 15th year of business because we noticed customers had many reoccurring questions for us, the work we do, and how we get inspired to create the works they purchase in the studio.  We also hear from other businesses asking for advice or to share ideas, and so we realized that maybe if we talked about some of these ideas or concepts on a weekly blog post, people listening in could learn a bit more about our small business and maybe the ideas we present would be helpful to them in some way.

 These 'Inside The Oven' series will always focus on two main ideas; one, to give the customers a behind the scenes look into the Glass Academy, how we develop products, shows, and the signature events that we put on in the Dearborn studio and surrounding communities.

 And two, a forum to discuss small business practices in a modern world. We figured if we could share ideas and growth plans with other businesses (and our customers!) in this ever-changing economy, we might just be around for the next 15 years!

 While you might be interested in only one segment of the ‘Inside The Oven’ series, our goal was to create a multi-faceted view of a small business and to share what the true “American Dream” looks like in the every day for us.

 For me, one of the things I notice that there is always a daily growth opportunity should I choose to take it.  As the owner you don’t know what the day brings, but whatever it does, it’s yours to deal with.  Perhaps the toilet will break, the class will need to be cancelled due to bad weather, or the color we need for a specific job is sold out.  This wasn’t on today’s agenda, now what?  Game on! An opportunity for new growth!!

 The challenge for me is to take these opportunities in stride. Sometimes they are easy fixes; call the plumber, reschedule the students, or choose another color to work with. These are all choices that the staff is well equipped to handle.

 Other days can be more of a challenge, because as the owner, these are your problems.  These are the days that suck.  Hard, honest truth.  When a customer tries to take me down, attack the business, go after my staff.  These are the days that suck.  OR the days that your staff does the wrong thing and you’re the one that has to do the damage control to make things right.  Those are the days that I have no manual, the days I have to figure it out on my own.  Doing our best to make the right decisions, honor our values, and still draw a line in the sand of boundaries we’re willing to go to.  No college courses can teach you this, no one comes to your rescue, there is no boss to go to asking for advice.

 When you know you have done all of the right things and the customer still comes at you hard, those are the days when you question everything, those are the days that keep me up at night.  Do I give in? Is it worth the struggle, why would they come at us this way? Trying not to take it personal sucks, because I do take it personal.

 I recently watched a friend lose part of their business because they got caught in the mix of something and felt backed into a corner.  They didn’t know what other choices they could make and the stress was too much, so they closed part of their business.  Perhaps this opened a new door for them, they are not certain yet, but I too hate feeling like I’m backed in a corner.  The pressure is awful.

 I’ve learned to wait a moment, to not be so reaction orientated. To give myself breathing room as best I can to look at the situation as a whole and then pick the right decision. To ask other business owners for an objective opinion when it becomes too personal.  Whoever knows if the decision made is right?  It could be the best thing that happens, it could be something not so good. Time will tell. I just know if I hold the positive vibe and vision of the company, and try the best I can, it will all work out in the end.  And if it doesn’t work out for the best, I’ve learned to forgive myself for doing the best I knew how with the resources I had at hand.

 Reminding myself daily; they aren’t problems, just opportunities for growth.

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