A new business is a lot like a new baby. In the beginning all your attention is focused on feeding and nourishing and growing this young, vulnerable thing. I can personally relate to the new business, new baby analogy. When I started my planning my coffee shop, I was just over halfway through my pregnancy with my third child. I was also navigating divorce. It was almost like I was trying to check off all the Major Life Changes boxes at once: Have a baby - check. Get divorced - double check. Open a business - triple check. So many events were packed into those first three years that I still feel the stress start to knot up in my chest when I look back on that season of my life.
I'm a few years late to the party, but lately I've been binging Rachel Hollis' podcast Rise. Each week she features a different female guest to talk about various aspects of business, and it's so immensely inspiring and motivating that I highly recommend giving it a listen. Episode 8 introduced me to Margaret Martin, the founder of the Harmony Project. The passion and dedication she offers in that hour is deeply moving. But one aspect spoke to me more profoundly than the rest, and that was when she was talking about the emotional impact of being a single mother in a time of financial struggle. Now, I would like to say that I am extremely fortunate with my personal circumstances, and I have many privileges that I do not take for granted for a moment. However one of the most fulfilling and humbling aspects of this Transitional Trifecta I put myself through was the incredible support system I had within my community.
Caring for preschool aged children with a new business as a single parent was challenging, to put it mildly. The mental energy alone on juggling which child will be where and with whom was enough to drain all the focus I had available. For the first three years of my business, I had at least one child (and often three) with me during work hours. But the network of people who gladly offered to shuttle kids to and from school or camp or daycare, who offered to let them play in their a/c on summer afternoons when temperatures rose above 106 in my food trailer, or picked my puking kid up from school until I could go get her, would overwhelm me with their generosity. It's true, what Margaret says. "When you're poor and you have kids, your insurance becomes other families." And truly, I would expand on that and say that if you're single and you have kids, or if you're a working mom and you have kids, your resources are almost entirely other families. We carpool, we trade off babysitting to attend work events, we help with drop offs and pick ups and aftercare. We work together to fill in all the gaps so we can each continue to follow our dreams and smash our goals.
Living within meager means can be taxing both mentally and emotionally. I made some scary, bold choices when I took the leap to open a coffee shop. I have struggled, and triumphed, failed and reinvented. But I can say without a shadow of a doubt that the only reason I have made it this far is because of other families; for all the moms who have picked up my slack, for my own family who put in the lion's share of childcare. Because when it comes to raising a business, it truly takes a village. And I am extremely grateful that I am blessed with such a marvelous one.