In January of 2013, only 4 months after getting married, my husband and I got our own donut franchise in the San Fernando Valley. From the first day that we were offered the place my husband and dad were super on board, I was definitely NOT. I watched my dad struggle a lot with the stress of owning a business, and that was not something I was prepared to deal with. Regardless, I recognized that this was a great opportunity and blessing to pass, especially for two newly weds who wanted to get their life together ASAP. During the process of taking over the business we both received a lot of advice from my dad as well as the district manager and the owners of the company. Having them help us made me feel more confident that everything was going to be all right.
When the time came to choose whether or not we wanted to keep the current employees, thats when I remembered why I was not on board. I was too nice and felt like I was no one to fire people or determine their worth. I learned quickly that showing that kind of attitude and personality can get you in trouble quick. Especially if you’re the boss. We kept most of the employees based on what the previous manager told us.
During the first week we got a lot of help from my dad, fixing and changing things that were not being done correctly as well as setting rules to make the place more presentable and customers more comfortable. The place was a mess when we got it and with all the help we received we were able to get the place together in no time.
Meanwhile, we were dealing with gaining the respect of the employees. We were younger than all of them and it showed that a few of them were not happy with us being their new bosses, and one of them even told us straight up. She was the biggest red flag and, again because I was too nice at first, I ignored it. During or first week she told us we she only gave us a few weeks tops, that we weren’t going to last. My husband and I didn’t respond to this, we only smiled and left. She became a problem right away. I was feeling the stress overcome me.
During that first year things were ok, we moved closer to work and started a new life together as business owners. Things ran smoothly. We were living a comfortable life, making a great income for the two of us and enjoying life. Disneyland trips were a regular thing as well as six flags and eventually universal studios. We lived right across a mall and near all the stores we needed. It was bliss…. Except…. it wasn’t! Like the saying goes, with great power comes great responsibility.
Despite the awesomeness of what I just told you, we were two very very stressed out individuals. Overtime we felt we were doing good, helping people get work and trying our best to be great examples of human beings. Regardless, we’d always be taken advantage of. An employee would ALWAYS have something to complain about, someone would start drama or there was always the occasional cold hearted mean person who just wanted to screw us over. It was the most exhausting thing I have ever experienced. The biggest problem was that that stress followed us home. During those four years we had the store my husband and I had the worst fights. We both became people neither of us recognized and due to pride and a little bit of fear we were not willing to let go of the shop in order to work on our marriage. We knew that owning that business was the main reason our arguments started and it was definitely the reason we were in a tense situation. For that I felt resentment towards the shop.
Before I started this business I was the person who always thought I should trust everyone until they give me a reason not to. Thanks to the following story, that changed completely by the end of our ‘term’ if you will. Remember that lady who hated us? Well a few days before christmas we had a little get together with everyone, to show our appreciation.she gave us an ultimatum in front of everyone (including her spouse who also worked with us) about giving her all of xmas week off (three days before!!), she never showed up to work and tried to file a lawsuit against us (that lasted three years!!) . Thankfully justice was served, she ended up wasting time because obviously we never did anything wrong to her and knew we had nothing to fear. That was the biggest issue we faced with owning our own business. Some complaining customers or people who just legitimately couldn’t stand us being the owners and wanted us out. It was crazy. But it did bring a lot of great things we are thankful for and wouldn’t have been able to do without it. Still when the time came to let go of the store we weren’t super sad. It was a bitter sweet moment. During the last 6-8 months we had a great team. A few of the original ones who I was really grateful for and grew to care a lot about , and ones we hired during our time there and became excellent employees. It was the most stress free we were and were sad we had to leave it. But because all of our employees at the time were amazing, we were glad to have that happen to open new doors and opportunities for them.
So if there is one thing I learned from this experience, its that if you want to be in a position that makes more money, be prepared to deal with the problems. I personally went into a position that was not for me. My husband on the other hand is very good at it, and my dad is the king of all small business bosses. He’s been doing this for years and despite the stress and frustration it causes him sometimes, he likes what he does and has learned to be the most forgiving and legit boss I’ve ever met. Some may disagree but those some are usually the ones who got like 100 chances and he finally said ‘enough’, so they get mad, throw a tantrum and blame someone for their own laziness and mistakes. There are people that will never be satisfied unless you always give them what they want all the time….stay away from those.
All in all, I’m glad I got to experience this. It definitely helped me grow a lot, emotionally and mentally (and physically, having access to donuts all day everyday is no joke). If it weren’t for this, I would have never moved out of my parents house and gotten to know my husband and myself more. I would have never gone to Disneyland so many times 😉 I would have never learned what kind of leader I am and my ability to love and care about people. I also would have never learned that I can be assertive as heck when I need to be. Most importantly, I would have never experienced first hand what my parents live and have worked through every single day since I was 10 years old. I grew a whole new level of appreciation and understanding for them. Especially because they started from zero. I admire them more and can relate to them more. For that I will always be grateful.
So, what was my point? Im not trying to scare anybody from starting their own business, or making more money. All I wanted to say is that if thats your plan, be prepared to deal with issues and make sure its something you’re good at and fits your personality. Don’t open a coffee shop if you hate coffee. Also make sure its something you’re passionate enough about or if you have a family and are doing it for them thats a valid motivation too. Do it for something that despite the issues, you are ready to overcome them and come up with solutions to better the situation. All great things start off on a bumpy road, but as you learn and work hard the road gets smoother and eventually you’re cruising through your best life. =)
“All the adversity I’ve had in my life, all my troubles and obstacles, have strengthened me… You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.” – Walt Disney