I was invited to speak on a panel of women business owners at a local college to celebrate National Women’s Entrepreneurship Day (WED). The objective of the event was to talk about how and why we started our businesses, what we’ve learned in the process, and to encourage other women to become entrepreneurs.
(If you want to view a REALLY GREAT video about WED, please, please, PLEASE, watch this short video.)
I was flattered and honored and thought they were out of their ever loving minds for ask ME to speak.
See, I’m not a half bad writer, but speaking is not my strong suit. I’m not trying to be bashful here. I’m telling you, honestly. I can do a lot of things well, speaking in front of a large-ish group of people I don’t know is NOT one of them!
But I believe in stretching myself and doing things that make me uncomfortable because that’s the only way you get better at anything, so I agreed to speak.
I had very little information on the set up, who would be there, how it would go, etc. That lack of information was mostly my own doing. I wrote my speech the night before. Because. Procrastination.
But really, on a deeper level, I have struggled the last year with feeling like a failure. Since deciding to scale back Libby’s Cupcakes Etc., I’ve had all kinds of questions creep into my consciousness. “Am I just copping out here? Do I just not have what it takes to be a truly successful business owner? Are they going to think I’m weak??”
Even though I have SO enjoyed the relaxing weekends with my family. (“Relaxing” is used loosely here to describe valeting back and forth between hockey and basketball and skating and the 15th birthday party this school year. But. You know. I’m present, so that counts for something.) Even though I get to ENJOY baking again when I have the opportunity to do so. Even though I still meet new people who have heard of my business and have great things to say. Even though my life is a little less stressed, a little more fulfilling, and generally just happier. There’s a breathy voice that whispers, “You weren’t good enough.”
So I wrote this speech the night before as much for myself as for anybody in that room. I fumbled through the whole damn thing, missing a lot and adlibbing stuff that probably didn’t make sense. I was maybe not as comfortable on stage as any of the other speakers but I DID IT! And that breathy voice can take my cupcakes and my doubts and shove it.
Here’s (most of) my speech. I’ll spare you the intro where I just tell what led up to forming LCE LLC.
“….which led to forming my LLC in June of 2010, thanks in part to the help of the local SBDC.
I have learned so much in the last five years of and continue to do so with every order. I am obviously more creatively inclined than I am business minded but when I first started this business I recognized the importance of staying on top of those business details. Yes, even down to the grueling task of calculating the to-the-penny cost of an individual cupcake! If you are a creative type starting a business, please school yourself on the business part of it. Also, remember that your time is valuable!
I’ve learned that the time and energy that I put into my business is usually returned with business. While it has provided a supplemental income, I also know that if there’s something coming up in my personal life that needs tending to, I can pull away. I can set those boundaries with my business. I can restructure my business around my life instead of restructuring my life around my work. I get to call the shots!
On that note, I’ve learned to measure the success of my business less by financial gain or how busy I am, but rather the quality of my work and the satisfaction of my clients. Unfortunately I think the current business culture, especially in creative fields, seems to indicate that if you don’t have a certain amount of popularity or fame or print or air time that you’re not really successful. But if you’re thinking about starting a business, I would encourage you to set your own individual goals and expectations; to really think about what that business looks like for your life. Because when you find that work-life balance, it can be SO rewarding!”
And guess what. My husband and boys surprised me and SHOWED UP and sat through THE WHOLE THING!
Hubs even took a picture…AND posted it on Facebook.