I had a somewhat unusual weekend. Nothing really outstanding happened, but I found myself feeling quite a bit “blah.” That is unusual for me. Usually I am rather driven and focused and I spend the days pushing ahead or catching up on the rest of the world while they have their weekend. But this weekend, it seemed that there was little wind in my sails to drive me. I must confess – there was barely a breeze.
I had spent the past two weeks working harder than usual and putting in longer hours than I normally do to complete some new patterns by my self-imposed deadlines. I found myself working from the time I awoke in the morning until well past 9pm in the evening every night in order to get things finished, with little time in between to just relax. I think things were getting to me.
I have never been afraid of hard work – especially when it comes to our business. I realize that things just don’t “fall into place” like people think they do and that the only way that one can be successful these days is by working harder than others around us who are trying to accomplish the same thing. I have always felt good about myself in the respect that I will do what it takes to make sure that my business is successful, even if it meant spending every waking hour working on it.
There is nothing wrong with being goal-orientated. In fact, without goals we have trouble accomplishing. Setting goals for ourselves is good, and setting high goals is even a bit better as it allows us to accomplish the most and reach our potential. But there comes a point where we have to realize that without finding a balance between work and relaxing, we are in danger of feeling overworked and burned out. Many times that happens before we even realize it.
Despite the hard work over the last few weeks, I was dealt several disappointments. On one front, I missed a deadline. One of the catalogs I had submitted one of my designs to was already past the season and working on Christmas. Another had a change of plans and things just didn’t work out. And on still another front, I saw that one of the former companies that I was working with had gone through with their threat to do their own versions of our designs since we refused to allow them to sell our patterns anymore. It was a lot to deal with in a couple of days. Especially when I was feeling so tired.
When I began this blog, I made a promise to myself that I would always be honest here with you all. I feel that I have always been that way, and I don’t intend to change things. I have mostly “up” days, as I am basically pretty happy with my life, but like everyone else, there are some “not so up” days occasionally too. After all, I am human and dealing with other humans. If I only wrote or spoke about the good things that happened with the business, I probably wouldn’t have any credibility with you all.
I am not trying to sound like I am complaining, as I truly am not. All of these things that have occurred are nothing sinister or things that only happen to me. They are just part of the deal of having a small business. I have been in the business for over 15 years now and I should have known that Fall and Christmas items were going to be due in March. I also understand that some businesses are going to change their minds – especially on loose agreements such as the one that I had. In thinking about things, I don’t blame them a bit and I would have probably done the same thing. There are no hard feelings and I still have the utmost respect for that company and its owner. Even the other company making derivatives of our designs is somewhat expected. I suppose they have every legal right to do so, as you can’t copyright an entire concept. I don’t for a minute think that Keith and I were the first ones to come up with these types of projects (and we certainly didn’t expect to be the last!) We are sure they are walking the fine legal line and are completely in their rights to do so.
I suppose everything happening at once just took me by surprise. So I took a day away to think about things and regroup.
Yesterday I caught up on a few things around the house. I moved at a very slow pace, doing only what I felt like doing. I did some general cleaning and I actually baked for the first time since before Christmas. Of course in between these things I filled orders and answered questions that customers had asked me. That part of the business doesn’t really get a day off. But I didn’t mind that, because I have some really nice people as customers and truly think that they are the best part of the job. Steve Good had posted our free pattern in his blog so it turned out to be quite a busy day.
I truly enjoyed talking with my customers, either through email or via the phone, and the wonderful words of appreciation were just what I needed to get out of my “blah” mood and remind me why I am doing this in the first place. It was a good distraction from the events of the previous week and helped me focus on what is really important.
I awoke early this morning, and I feel much better about things. I know what needs to be done and I know that I am the only one who can do it. I just need to work a bit ‘smarter.’ As I said – after fifteen years of working in the publishing business, I know that fall and winter projects need to be done in spring. I need to get with the program. It will be alright for me to weave in some projects of the current season for my website, but if I am planning to submit anything, I just need to work on their time frame, not my own.
As for the company that decided to use our ideas and put their own spin in them – so what? The saying “competition breeds excellence” comes to mind and one thing that I am not worried about is the quality of our patterns. We chose to leave the company in the first place because of their shoddy way they present things and I think in the long run, our customers will prefer our designs and service. Maybe not all, but I think many. Besides – I am never short of new ideas and I don’t have to rely on copying and changing another designers’ plans to come up with new products. I’m not going to worry about it, as they will always be one step behind me.
I feel much better today. I woke up with a renewed sense of purpose and ambition. The flat feeling that I had over the weekend has passed as it always does and I feel my enthusiasm returning. I wanted to share this with you all because I know that there are lots of you who read who have your own business and go through the same things. Not exactly the same of course, but there are similar obstacles that all small businesses encounter that sometimes either makes or breaks them.
It isn’t always easy. Yesterday my ‘pink cloud’ was rather grey. I am fortunate enough to have a remarkable partner who not only understood, but said all the right things to turn my cloud pink again. I have always said how much I appreciate having Keith here to share things with, and yesterday was a perfect example of why he is so important to me in so many ways. I am fortunate to have such a supportive partner and cheer leader.
So it is a new day and a new week and we will go from here. Don’t be surprised if you see me designing autumn and Christmas items in the near future. And come next fall, I will be on to spring and summer. It is just the way of the business.
Do you think that this is what Tiny Tim meant when he said “Keep Christmas in your hear all year?” I wonder.
I wish you all a happy Monday!
My yummy pecan bars that I made yesterday. (Who said it was an unproductive weekend?)
-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"