This Summer I made the heartbreaking decision to close down my bakery business.
I’d put my heart, my soul, and my life savings into my company. On the surface, it had looked hugely successful; my cakes were in magazines all around the world, I was starting to emerge as an industry expert, I was writing for magazines and guest-blogging, I’d been nominated for national awards, and also asked to feature on TV.
I was turning away more business than I could take on, charging higher prices than most in my industry, and working 70-80 hour weeks.
However, it didn’t matter whether I worked longer hours, or took on more projects, I just couldn’t get my business model to work. It wasn’t making money.
Let me address the elephant in the room, right now.
My business was exactly that, a business. It wasn’t a hobby: It had to turn a profit. I needed to earn a sustainable wage. Whilst we weren’t starving on the single income from my husband, my financial contribution would buy the little luxuries in life such as a cinema trip, having my roots done, and the occasional take-away, without having to empty the kids’ money pigs!
Making my own money was also a matter of pride. I wanted to show everyone that I could go it alone – “Look at me. Aren’t I clever?”.
But, as I was pelting along on my hamster wheel, something quite disturbing was happening. I was turning into a horrible person.
For two years I barely spoke to my mum.
We hadn’t fallen out, in fact we have a very close and loving relationship. My mum is my backbone, my best friend and my chief Cheer Leader. Quite simply, when I wasn’t working, I was thinking about work. And when she’d pop in for a coffee, see her grandchildren, drop off my ironing (aren’t mums great?) I’d barely have the time or energy to nod, let alone speak.
And the killer confession? My middle son’s first sentence was “Not now, I’m checking my emails.”.
So, in the Summer, with the support of a fabulous woman called Ann-Marie Mayling, The Business SuperNanny, I made the gut-wrenching, heart-breaking, and soul-destroying decision of shutting-up-shop.
Do you know something?
I honestly wouldn’t change the past three years. I’ve learnt so much.
My family have graciously forgiven me, my mum still does my ironing (Gawd bless ‘er), and my three sons still think I’m pretty cool (let’s see if that lasts into adolescence!).
As my wounds soften to scars, my new business emerges from its cocoon with a stronger and wiser woman at the helm. I’m not jumping back on that hamster wheel. I refuse to juggle everything in the vain hope of being Superwoman.
It might be controversial of me to say, but, as women, we do have to work harder to get on in business. “Equal Opportunities” are still not completely equal. We have to stand taller, be quicker, and sharper than our male colleagues. If we pause for a few months to have children, we are knocked back years. We’re still not represented properly at Board Level, but, we shouldn’t let this pressure be the sword we fall on.
Often we’re our own worst enemy: Addicted to the Hamster Wheel.
So, what’s in store for 2015?
I’m going to kick arse in 2015. I’m going to be pacing myself: This is a marathon, not a sprint. I’m not going to work at the weekend. I’m going to spend more time with my kids and long-suffering husband. I’m going to surround myself with strong, independent, motivated, intelligent, and energetic women, just like you.
Oh, and I’m going to learn how to outsource…..
What are you going to do?