Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Kids or Cookies?

Business or Pleasure? : Pleasure...No, Business....Pleasure....I think.

There was never any doubt in my mind that I had always wanted a family. Husband, kids, pets- the whole 9 yards. When I was younger and married, I knew it wasn't the right time. Financial and personal circumstances were not ideal and I would not bring a child into this world if I could not do it in the perfect environment.

When my business started to grow, and Joel started to ask when we would start laying down our roots, my excuse was that I didn't have a ring from him and what kind of message would that send to our children? I love your mom enough to knock her up, but not enough to marry her. Well, he produced a ring. Because of legalities (such as his first wife refusing to sign his divorce papers), I never had a wedding planned. Why start something that I may not be able to finish, right?

Business was picking up year after year. Unexpectedly, I was thrown a curve ball when there were two lines on that damn pregnancy test instead of one. I was not a happy camper. I wasn't ready. I wasn't married. My business was booming. How the heck was a child going to fit into all this chaos?

The two months Joel and I dealt with my bun in the oven were no walk in the park. We fought. I left. I came back. I didn't want to continue the pregnancy. He insisted we try to make this work. He promised to have a physical bakery open for me before the baby's first birthday. That way, we could both work and bring the baby with us everyday. No nannies or babysitters. I could still work on my business and we would raise our child together.

In the grand scheme of things, this would have been an ideal situation for me. I could have my business, my baby, and my husband with me all day and night. Awesome!

That was a very naive and clueless girl who believed things would be as easy as that. Fate interceded and my pregnancy terminated itself. Honestly, a brand new business is not the place a newborn should be. Throwing a cradle in the corner of some kitchen is not how to take care of your own. With how lost I get in my work and how much running around Joel would have to do, who would really be there to make sure my child had every bit of attention a newborn demands every single second of the day?

Needless to say, there were never any more "oops" moments after that.

My relationship with Joel survived our personal struggles because we loved working with each other. There was a mutual respect in our kitchen that just could not transfer over to our own partnership. We had each other's back countless times, and I would still love to have him back as a business partner. Unfortunately, all the personal history between the two of us would definitely be a problematic sticking point.

Other people that I know who run their own business have succeeded because they married a partner who was not only a partner in life, but an active partner in their business. Working together provides a level of understanding that someone from the outside just never gets. People think that setting up a cupcake tree or a huge cake for a wedding is simple. But there are so many other factors that go into it, and you need to be able to handle anything unexpected; even if it means you're setting up 200 cupcakes in three feet of space in the backroom of a hall, sandwiched between DJ equipment.

Joel saw everything I went through putting together some of these orders. He knew what kind of people I had to deal with, how it sucked when someone didn't have my money, and how I had to handle unsatisfied customers. So, he cut me a little slack when I wasn't in the best mood, when I was too tired to go to his sister's birthday dinner, or when I had some massive meltdown in the middle of a baptism cake disaster.

Treating my business like my child has it advantages, but it also has huge disadvantages. I am protective like an overbearing parent. I am careful who I let in. I am cautious who I speak to about my operations. I am very selective with whom I work with. I've had many investment offers in the past; people who wanted to hand me a load of money to grow the business. It always made me nervous and I never went through with any of it. I was scared someone was going to pull my baby out of my arms and steal it. I was worried that it would fail and then would owe some big time money that I had no way of paying back.

Like an overprotective single parent, I won't just jump into a partnership blindly with anyone. While the allure of "free money" and overnight growth seems as appealing as a handsome, rich, and suave suitor coming to ask for my hand in marriage; I know better than to believe the hype. After all, what good is marrying the handsome, rich, suave suitor if he turns out to be a huge pain in the ass?

It's good to have many dreams, because if one of them doesn't pan out, you have plenty more to fall back on. It doesn't seem like I'm going to have that family I dreamed about. I admit that realization is heartbreaking to me, but I can't spend the rest of my life mourning it. I just have to refocus my efforts towards my business; my baby.

Who knows? Maybe the satisfaction of opening up my first bakery will feel as proud as watching my kid graduate from kindergarten. I thought that making the choice between Business or Pleasure would be the hardest decision I would ever have to make; concentrate on a family or concentrate on my business? I think my procrastination caused the decision to be made for me. No more family. Just work on the Business.

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