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The Truth About Running A Business

This past Monday was one of those days where I was too busy to check email. I was out at an event, and by the time I got home in the evening, I opened up my email inbox to find way more Forrager-related messages than usual. Why? As it turns out, a spammer created a Forrager account and then sent hundreds of unwelcome private messages to community members!

Although most people are accustomed to getting spam and weren’t bothered by it, I obviously needed to address the issue. I spent awhile doing damage control, from diagnosing the situation, to shutting down the spam account, to sending out an apology email to everyone affected. And just when I thought I had things under control, I went to bed and lo and behold, 5 minutes later the spammer created another account and starting sending mass emails while I was sleeping! So guess what I had to do first thing in the morning?

Things Don’t Always Go As Planned

The truth is, I had planned to write a different email that evening… I was gearing up to send the first welcome email for Forrager’s newsletter. Instead of writing that newsletter, I wrote an apology instead.

This is the worst email spam attack Forrager has endured (by far), and it was completely random. The private messaging system has been active for years, and this spam attack could have easily not happened, but of course it happened right before my first legitimate email to Forrager’s members! Ironic but true.

These things happen in business. There are those times when you’re thinking to yourself “Why do I have to be doing this right now?” And you really don’t want to be doing it, but you really do want to see your business succeed, so you do it anyway.

Who You Gonna Call?

Ghostbusters? No…. actually, you’re probably not going to call anyone. When I worked in a large company, I only had to worry about problems in my department. But as a solopreneur, I am every single department. Product development? That’s me. Marketing? Me too. Customer relations? Yup, me again!

The truth about running your own business is that everything falls on you: the good and the bad, the important and the menial. Some days are no fun, while others put you on top of the world.

Sometimes I hear people talk about a “million dollar idea” or “cupcakes that sell themselves”. Yeah….. that’s simply not true at all.

It’s tempting to think that a cupcake business is all about making cupcakes. In reality, it’s more like 20% making cupcakes and 80% dealing with all of the other stuff that goes unseen by the public.

It’s Not All Bad

I don’t say this to discourage you, but rather, to give you realistic expectations. I think discouragement only happens when our expectations exceed reality.

Entrepreneurship isn’t all fun and games: the reality is that running a business is challenging, rewarding, disappointing, inspiring, boring, and exciting — all rolled into one. And overall, the upsides outweigh the downsides.

For every time you need to take the blame for things gone wrong, you get to take the credit for things gone right. For every unpleasant customer, you make a new friend. For every bad batch of product you make, you make a kid’s day and that makes it all worth it.

Finally, there’s always a silver lining. When I sent out the apology email about the spam attack, it gave me an opportunity to show people that although Forrager isn’t perfect, there’s a real person behind the scenes who’s paying attention, and a lot of people appreciated that. Also, I turned the experience into a blog post… win-win!

How about you? Have you had any trying times while running a business? Do you feel like you’re doing-it-all, and what keeps you going?

Comments

Hi David! I actually have two questions for you and anyone in your community who may have an/the answer. I’m a start-up CBO, learning as I go. One: did you take out business insurance for your cookie operation? If so, on what basis did you choose the insurance company? Two: I’m struggling a lot with pricing my products (doing the math for each ingredient/each product). Got any helpful tips to make this more time-efficient and accurate? Thanks so much!

Sorry to hear their are mean folks out there that want to impact a kind hearted and helpful thing you are providing us.

    Yeah it’s unfortunate, but I don’t think of the folks who create spam as being evil or anything. They’re just trying to make some money, albeit in a very irritating way.

Thank you for sharing the turbulations of a business both visible and invisible to consumers. I appreciate your forthright approach to sharing your experiences. Where or how can I enjoy your chocolate chip cookies? :) :):)

    Thanks Shar. Getting ahold of my chocolate chip cookies is easy… simply swing by my place in Medfield, MA and I’ll be sure to have some ready for you. ;)

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