I’m done. I’m saying ‘Sayonara’ to a bad habit that I picked up in November 2008. I’m going to quit saying, ‘When things return to normal.’ That sentence ends a million ways, ‘When things return to normal, we can start advertising in your magazine again. When things return to normal, I can finally buy you a functioning computer. When things return to normal, we can finally raise the price on our Otion Soap Bar Experiences. When things return to normal, I can finally start to look for a new warehouse.’ When, when, when … how about never, never, never.
I’m not one of those people that believes that as soon as I (complete this sentence: move to a new state, finish my degree, break up with my boyfriend, marry my dream guy, move out of my parent’s house, pay off my credit card debt, get my weight under control), my life will be better. I’ve always plowed ahead, telling myself ‘This is your life. This is your reality. Live it now. Don’t live in the future.’
So, why am I doing it with business? I think it’s because the drop in the stock market and consumer confidence in late 2008 was so mind blowing that I couldn’t comprehend that maybe, just maybe, everything really was changing that quickly. My puny comprehension couldn’t take in the scope of a new playing field. Instead, I just waited, along with the rest of the nation, until ‘the recession ended.’ Every panel I’ve listened to or spoke on this year had at least one speaker saying, “Well, when the recession ends, I’m going to…” or “I’m hearing that the market is improving so I’m just holding on until …”
We keep being told the recession is ending, that the housing market is stabilizing and that we’ll soon return to the halcyon days of 2005. That’s fine. You go ahead and wait for that but I’m done waiting. I’m going to act as though our fractured marketplace and our difficult economic climate is the new normal. I’m re-adjusting what I think ‘healthy’ profits look like and I’m going to get realistic and engaged in what the current economy has to offer. To hope, wish, and pray for anything else is just bad forecasting on my part and it does a disservice to my company, my staff and my customers.
What does that mean? It means that I’m going to get up earlier, stay up later and be hungrier than ever before for new market opportunities, for new customers and keep my eyes focused on the prize: building a company that lasts the ages, that is around for my grandchildren to inherit and love the entire process. And, it means that I’m not waiting around for the market to turn around to lay plans for my better future: I engaged the services of a commercial broker last week to look for new warehouse property for Bramble Berry and I’m forging ahead with our expansion plans into soap mold manufacturing. I’ve readjusted the tint on my rose-colored-glasses considerably but I’m still holding on to them because I know, eventually, someday, I might need them again.
Dawn Witt says
What a great post! I think we all need to hear things like this from our favorite supply company.You are the backbone of my small business. I have been hit hard by this recession too, but keep trying to continue because I take care of my granddaughter after school.If I had to get a 9-5 job I would not be able to do this, but I seem to be walking a thin line. I know you are speaking of a new normal. I just ask that you please dont raise your prices.Also, Just a thought to help us, but are you thinking about looking into more/better shipping options, as when I order a bulk of M&P the shipping is truly killing me.
So, I too, am finding a new normal. And hoping I can stay in business. This is my season to either make it or break it. Wish me luck!
Great post, A-M! I guess I've been lucky in that 2009 was my first year in business, so this IS my normal. Even as the economy got worse at the end of 2008, I just forged ahead with my plans. I figure that this can only make my business stronger in the end. Thanks for your insight!
Barkley's Mommy says
How much would I love to sport one of the pink "I refuse to participate in this economy" buttons you mentioned in an earlier comment!!!
I really respect that you host a forum for those of us who enjoy soap crafting, but are also woman- owned small businesses. I've been blessed to watch your Bramble Berry business grow and prosper over the years. I am always so humbled to read your posts as to how you have grown your grassroots "garage" business into a highly lucrative corporation!
It's amazing to me how many people posted comments to a business (rather than soap) related post!!! You're absolutely doing the world a service in keeping us "fledgling" business owners" on a positive track!
Kindest regards and utmost respect~
A very powerful statement and message. More people need to be thinking like this – including myself.
I am so glad that you posted a blog about this and that there are so many positive responses. Your blog reminds me that "normal" is just a state of mind anyway; one that I think is often overrated. After all, are there any successful entrepreneurs that followed the norm and let hard times stand in their way? I can't think of any.
but FOR SURE,
this is NOT for the faint of heart.
just like long term investing.
you have to have nerves of steel.
and more patience, faith and endurance than any other person.
you know, i LOVE that we can share this together!
i LOVE that Estee Lauder began her business during not only a recession but a full blown DEPRESSION.
finally, i LOVE that the cupcake industry is reaching critical mass and even spiked upward during all of this.
so, finally, i LOVE even more that Americans will still buy bath and body products and even candles just to cheer themselves up.
and today, i am glad that they are showing some bulls and balls on wall street. 🙂 pardon moi, s'il vous plez…..
so to all of us, keep our chins up and keep on plowing!
Carrie @ Under the Willow says
Just a BIG WOW~ great post.
You are truly so inspirational in so many ways, Anne-Marie! Thanks for that kick in my pants; I really needed it. 🙂
Though the death of my son, I continuely call what I am living – my new normal since what we had is gone. We must forge ahead in business and in life. I was forced to come to this realization. You made this choice to push forward on your own. Good for you. We will stand with you. I am also beginning to rebuild my life. So good morning to the new us. Good luck.
I hope your attitude and determination are contagious. If we all develop a little of that, and foster it in our cities and towns, WE can help to bring about that recovery. WE have ability, as small businesswomen to revitalize the economy and make it grow. I say we all "Bramble-ize" one aspect of our daily operations to make this work. We have each other to look to for guidance and support (and we're not afraid to ask for directions when we need a little help).
I love it AM! That is the attitude you need to have in this new climate! Only the strong will survive, has never been a more true statement. As you drive down the street and notice all the businesses that have closed down, it's sad…but we must get up, dust off our knees and keep our eyes on the prize! People are still buying things, but we as business people need to figure what they are buying and how to sell it to them. I am all for the
throwing out the negative thinking! I think that we have to remain positive! Afterall, we are what we think!
Hi Team –
Wow, it's been a busy day. I could have sworn I posted a response here this morning. I am clearly losing my mind. I guess it's a case of the 'Mondays!'
I am so thankful and thrilled that you are all moving on and moving upwards with your businesses, your lives and your plans.
Amy, you are so right – if I ever got a tattoo, it would be of the Chinese symbol for Opportunity for sure.
Kat, When we see eachother at a soap guild show or something, I'll have to tell you about the chocolate company that never was. I still have the commercial chocolate melting machine!! (seriously)
Anne, You really have the perfect silver lining there – you've streamlined operations and that's a good thing! Kudos to looking on the positive side AND for increasing your business in this challenging economy.
Erin and Faerie Made, I went to the Women President's Organization conference this year and they were handing out buttons that said "I refuse to participate in this economy". The buttons were pink and by the end of the conference, there was a sea of buttons! It was quite inspiring.
Ayesha, I'm so glad you liked the post. The Mastermind retreat definitely distilled a lot of the things swirling around in my head for me. It's so good to take the time to work on your business – but it's so hard to find the time to do that during our rush-rush lives.
Hippie's Creations – Kudos to you for taking the leap to follow your passion while putting your family first. If you're in the beginning stages of establishing the business, definitely read "The Rockerfeller Habits" by Verne Harnish. It's a great program for helping you figure out mission and vision and priorities. And of course, I can't speak highly enough of "The Success Principles" by Jack Canfield. Both books are incredible tools for making a business built to last.
Faerie Made says
i've always said that i refuse to participate in this recession. and i mean it.
Hippie's Creations says
This was a well needed post (for me). When my son was recovering from transplant surgery that took 8 months to learn whether he would live or die, I made the decision to finally (wanting to do this for a long time) to go into business for myself. It has given me the opportunity to stay home, tend to his medical needs as well as my other children. I am still in the beginning stages of establishing my business, but I am doing it. When one door closes another one opens. Thanks for sharing this powerful message!
Wonderful attitude, Ann-Marie!!
This recession is hitting all of us, HARD. Just keep in mind that now you have a WHOLE NEW demographic to market to…. those of us that are out of work and refuse to sit idle. I lost my job last May and have been ramping up my crafting ever since… it's the only thing I have that can bring in even a LITTLE money until I find work again. I'll spend what I need to to get the work done, and return to Bramble Berry because it's close (only 1-2 days for shipments), affordable, and I KNOW what I'm going to get (quality).
You have a wonderful spirit! It's contagious!
oops, i forgot to sign that one. -ayesha
WOW! empowering post. is this a result of that mastermind retreat? i took the landmark education forum years ago and reviewing those notes produces amazing epiphanies like this one. kudos on reframing your mind and your business. takes guts and patience to ride out the waves but that is also the nature of a capitalist economy. that said, i still think indie biz is the way of the future!
There at really really good deals in Ft. Myers FL….I can put you in touch with a fabulous realtor. And our Economic Development people are armed with great incentives, give it some thought!
Geographically we are just minutes from Sanibel Island! White sand. Clear warm water. Just 1 hurricane in the last 40+ years. Flat terrain for running….
thank you anne-marie for your words of wisdom! i wholeheartedly agree with your thoughts on this. i read your blog almost everyday, and i just want to say your words inspire me in so many ways!!!! your bright outlook and great sense of humor are so refreshing…thank you thank you:)
I remember the last big recession. The one the S&L crisis started. The sky was falling and we would all surely die. (or some such horrible nonsense) I remember many, many decisions made at that time … I remember saying out loud many times (to the crazy looks of those around me) and in my head a million more times "I refuse to participate in this recession". And I did, I refused. I went on like it wasn't happening. I spent, I saved, I ran a business (not this one) like it wasn't happening — I dealt with what I had and forged forward. You know what? It never really changed a darn thing. The recession never "got me" because I refused to acknowledge its existence. Truly I think if we all did it, they would end much faster, because of course its spending (within reason, of course) that loosens up the wheel so it can turn again.
milk and cookeez says
I live by the attitude of "Why put it off until tomorrow if you can do it today, tomorrow may not come."
(except when it comes to painting)
Im glad to hear that you are looking for a larger warehouse-that is good news, that means good things are coming. Congrats on the upward mobility, we'll all benefit form this 🙂
How will anything go back near the old normal if we don't embrace today's?!
Barkley's Mommy says
As a business owner, I agree that we must adjust to our "new normal". The last quarter of 2008 definately presented a lot of challenges, but I chose to push through. I put additional money into advertising, gave raises to my strongest staff members, and increased my student incentives. Yes, I have had to make some sacrafices (like staying up a little later to clean my office, since I cancelled the cleaning service). BUT… I found there were a lot of ways to increase productivity and "get more for less." I know I now run a much more streamlined and efficient business than ever before, because chose to deal with "now" rather than "when…"
I kept a good attitude and thought positive thoughts during the challenging times. I continued to invest money and time (blood, sweat, and tears) into my business. Guess what? We now have a record number of students, a superior and dedicated staff, and I am consistenly able to put a few additional pennies into my pocket each month.
Of course, having the opportunity to own and operate a business I believe in and love every day is the biggest reward of all!
Hugs and blessings~
Deep South Bath Co. says
We all love your attitude!
We all agree!
And we all plow ahead! Plow Plow Plow. The farmer plows in hope, all the while looking to the sky. The farmer lays his seed in the ground and waits. We all need Faith Like Potatoes and the patience and wisdom of Job and endurance to weather whatever storms come.
The only part that worries me is that part about "Get up earlier and Stay up later"…..We already know you do that…so what about your work/life balance. Remember, it is on your goals sheet!
I only say that because I have grown so fond of you over this year that I feel compelled to remind you of your stated goals just as you faithfully remind us.
At least we all know now that you are planning grandchildren!
Frankly I have been expecting you to begin pioneering a worldwide dominance in chocolate. Or a book on entrepreneurship or consulting or something like that. Whatever you touch, turns to gold!
Some people are born with this gifting, and I can truly say you are amongst those people.
I like what Amy said about crisis and oportunity. That is good stuff.
Lynn in Seattle says
So, now *is* normal! Dealing with this normal situation can truly move things forward better than waiting for someone else to start rolling a ball, or lathering up a bar of soap.
You go girl!
Good post, and good point, Anne-Marie. What do they always say- crisis and opportunity is the same character in the Chinese language! You should get a great deal on a warehouse right now!
Absolutely brilliant post. We're all feeling it..doesn't matter where you're from, it's happening all over.
I'm guilty of the 'when it's over' thing too but it just messes with your head and causes sleepless nights and too much stress. I guess we all must turn it around to suit ourselves. I'm doing more now than I ever did before…and the rewards are starting to pay off regardless of the recession. We could all do with more sales, but hey..to get even one per week is fantastic.
Good luck with the new warehouse x
Good for you!! Love your attitude!
Awesome post! Amen!
Jilly Bean Soaps says
Bravo! I'm so tired of everyone being afraid to do anything. I think everyone is scared that something will happen even worse and that the economy isn't stable. But we have to keep growing and planning for the future. That's what I'm doing and it feels good!
Being both a customer for the last few years, (though only coming in maybe four times to replenish my butter making supplies) and a small business owner myself I'm thrilled to hear someone else think this way. Nothing will be exactly the same so one might as well find a way to do what needs to be done!
I don't think the recession should put anything on hold(within reason). Even when there's a good economy people still are always having difficulties due to money. I'm excited that you are able to work with what you've got and keep moving forward.