Three words to sum up this week. Daunting. Exciting. Overwhelming.
A few weeks ago Max and I decided that the sensible thing was for one of us to get another job. There’s nothing wrong, the businesses trundle along nicely enough, employ us and someone else and keep a goodly number of customers happy. But the fact is that online life is not what is was and the big players have altered things profoundly for the small independents. I can foresee bigger changes too as distributors and brands start to take on direct sales themselves (some already have) and a concerted effort to squeeze out small online shops continues. We will only ever be small, I suspect and that’s fine because small is okay and I like having the right to be personal and kind and thoughtful. What I also think is we’d be foolish not to see that in two years time we might be facing brands who want to cut out the costs of retailers and have all the profit themselves; I’ve got a lot of children and a big mortgage which I can’t reduce any time soon and I don’t want to suddenly find myself unable to fight the big companies who can throw more money at things than we will ever manage.
That’s a difficult thing to say, not least because people will wonder if we are in difficulty. I don’t know how to say it more clearly that this – PlayMerrily and CraftMerrily trot along nicely, selling goods, paying suppliers, paying three wages, always able to pay the rent and the costs and offer some discounts but we need to accept they won’t make us rich and give us a comfortable old age with money to enjoy life. And there are things I would like to do that will need some available money, not least giving more of my time to changing the world.
And they really do only need one of us. Max and I both work there all week and the truth is one of us could do enough to keep it just the way it is right now.
So when Max said, “I think one of us should go back to work…” my immediate response was to ask him if he’d go back to engineering. And his response to that was…
“I was rather thinking it would be you.”
I won’t lie, it threw me. But of course, as he almost always does, he was talking sense. He runs the business in an operational sense and although I do the creative side, it doesn’t really need me. If I was working I would still fit in the chatting and Facebook paging and talking to suppliers and customers and all that jazz but if I was left to run it, I’d be rubbish. I’m just not a ‘runner’ of things. I’m a creator of things.
But what should I do????
It’s been 16 years since I had to ‘get a job’ and I worked on the high street then. I had a moment of feeling profoundly 40 and skill-less and wondering if I would need to apply to Tesco. And then, after a few days of breathing in and out and stern talkings to by my sister and various other friends I breathed in.
I wrote a CV. I submitted it. I tentatively talked to a a few contacts. I drew breath and started to optimise my online life to look a bit more professional.
And a few people have started to talk back.
It’s been an okay week. Exciting. I’m far from safely out of the clutches of shelf stacking but I’ve had time to review myself and see my skills and talk to people and I’ve been surprised by how many people value me and have wanted to talk back. This week has been about one new client and one piece of work and two possibles and several calls about my cv and even an interview opportunity (that didn’t happen as his wife went into labour as I got there!)
I am excited. It’s a good thing to hold on to because no doubt in a few weeks I will feel frustrated, frightened and foolish over something or other and, as someone wise said to me, “remember this feeling for the lean weeks” but I’m slightly overwhelmed too. I know I can do this if I work at it. I also know I’m going to have to reorganise how I live, spend less time with my toys and crafts, spend less time with Max, the girls and Bene and be professional and more vocal and more pushy and sell myself. And I can sell nearly anything but myself. So overwhelming is my third word. Not overwhelmed though. There is a subtle difference.
Some very good people have offered advice and support and leads and I’m grateful to them all.
I mentioned this on my Facebook page a few weeks ago but it seems a fitting time to revisit it. Patch of puddles will retire gradually from active service over the next little while, though it will be gradual. I want this to go back to just recording family days and what I want to remember. I don’t want to feel inhibited by ranting here or wondering if it fits the ethos. I want to try different writing and different oppportunities and for this to be about Bene growing up. At least, I think so.
I’ve been writing a little differently on my other blog recently. I’d be delighted if you joined me.
So. That’s that. I won’t lie it all feels a bit of a wrench; the last few years have been far from easy but, as I’ve said a million times, at least I had a cosy, safe nest to be in while I recovered. Now it is time to move out of my little business a bit and move on from my blog a little bit and try and be just a bit more of the outstanding person I can be.
Thank goodness for being 40. I think I’m going to need the confidence and elbows this age decade has brought me.