My New Year's Resolutions as an Entrepreneur
I survived the end of the world (again), along with a barrage of parties urging me to destroy my liver, but the Mayans got me thinking about the new year.
2012 has been, for the most part, a great year for me. I graduated with a master’s, my boyfriend and business partner John is now my fiancé, I moved to Miami for a job, then got a new (better) job, and I write for one of the best career websites for women (The Daily Muse, of course!). And as far as our food truck is concerned, we put a brand new used engine into Lazarus and celebrated two years as business owners.
But it wasn’t until last Thursday that I took a serious look at my actual resolutions from the past year. Turns out, there were a few that hadn’t been started, some that were pending, and exactly three and a half I had actually completed. I can do better in 2013, right?
As I began to jot down a few goals for the upcoming year, like returning voicemails and attempting hot yoga (again), someone emailed me about my food truck’s whereabouts for the weekend. She said that her family was going to be in town and wanted them to taste our delicious chicken and waffles. I smiled on the inside but then ignored the email. John was busy with his finals in Atlanta and I didn’t have a clue about the truck’s schedule. Instead, I turned to Pinterest to plan my DIY wedding.
Why? Well, ever been so busy or overwhelmed that instead of going to work on your tasks, you just take a nap? Yes, I believe that’s what happened with me and my business. After I was fired from my full-time job, I was sad and frightened by student loan debt. Then, I thought I should be planning the wedding but paused because I wasn’t sure who was funding it. The food truck, my on-the-side business, was definitely out of sight, out of mind, and it wasn’t until I got that email that I remembered my shortcomings as an entrepreneur.
So this year, if I could do anything better, it would be to be a better business owner. On that note, here are two resolutions I’m taking with me into 2013.
Follow a Plan—That Can Be Tweaked
Like any good start-up, we wrote a business plan a month before we bought Laz in 2010. According to this plan, we’re supposed to have another food truck in a different city along with a brick-and-mortar restaurant in 2013.
Over the holidays, John and I went through the plan and were a bit bummed out. Like, “Man there’s no way we’re going to meet those goals. Where’s all that money supposed to come from? Who will manage it?” A pack of Twizzlers and two meltdowns later, we sipped on cups of green tea and began making modifications to the plan.
My experience with yoga (i.e., an attempt at the plow pose that had air coming out the wrong end and my back sore for days) taught me one thing: I need to be more flexible. Our business plan lacked flexibility, and what we needed was a plan that could maneuver with us and our changing priorities, rather than one that had us sticking to stringent deadlines.
So we tweaked the plan, creating a milestone for marriage and graduate school and pushing a few goals back by six months to a year. We also made a pros and cons list of moving the business to South Florida, where I live now, though we haven’t come to a decision yet. We want to ensure that the plan is flexible and that we have the human capital to make it all happen.
2012 taught me that there are acts of the universe outside my control. But in 2013, instead of stopping in the middle of the road, I plan to forge ahead—even if I have to take a different route.
Building a Better Team Means Being a Better Boss
When I moved to Miami, we hired someone to manage the food truck’s operations. I was 75% sure I was leaving Lazarus and the brand in a good place, but a smaller part of me had a few premonitions. Sadly, my gut was right, and we’re proceeding with legal action against this former employee. I am disappointed in his actions, but at the same time—I knew better. I knew that he wasn’t totally right for the job and I think that John and I were so caught up in our careers and school that we probably neglected to give him the necessary resources to truly succeed.
In 2013, we plan on bringing in a partner with corporate experience that will help us with strategy and finances. We don’t have all the answers and we know that if we want to get to the next level, we’re going to have to recreate Three’s Company.
More importantly though, having a great team means being a great boss. Physical location has definitely been a factor in my greatness, but there were times I ignored issues or turned toward a distraction versus addressing them head-on. In 2013, I want to be more attentive and ensure that we give our new employees all the resources they need to not just maintain our business—but to help it grow.
Though I have a few more resolutions, these are the big two that won’t send me over the entrepreneurship cliff in 2013. What are your resolutions for the new year?
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