As anyone who runs a business would know - it's totally easy. *cough cough bullshit cough cough*
Okay, clearly I'm joking. That was a meme I found on the internet. Not my words.
But running a biz can feel like that sometimes, which is why I think it’s important to be transparent about the journey. If a newbie entrepreneur or customer stumbles across my lil business, and they start playing the comparison game - blog posts like these can help bring a good ol’ dose of reality to the table.
My greatest achievement in the last two months? I didn't end up curled in a fetal position after taking on the big role of running Be. Bangles on my own.
Were there moments when I came close? Um, yeah.
Considering I’ve worked sporadically (or not at all) over the last couple of years while recovering from illness, I’m taking that as a friggin’ win!
*insert some kind of celebratory music here that involves trumpets. Preferably loud trumpets.*
So, it's time for shit to get real. I'm reporting back about the Good, The Bad and The Ugly of the last couple of months.
I’m going to start with the ugly. Mostly so it will get progressively better as this blog post rolls along and I won’t be left feeling like a total douche canoe at the end of it.
Saying Goodbye To Loz
There isn’t any point in sugar coating it. Saying goodbye to Loz was easily the ugliest and toughest part of the last couple of months. I’m so proud of how we both handled it - the handover was clean and thorough - and I’ve barely had to ask her anything about Be. in the last couple of months. I think that’s a testament to how amazingly well she setup the systems and how clean the handover was.
And, make no mistake, it also totally sucked. To say goodbye to a business partner, who single handedly saved my business when I was completely unable to work, was just fucked. How can you repay someone for something that has no price tag? As I said to someone the other day, if it wasn’t for Loz, I’d be financially ruined right now. I think I’d be ruined full stop. Because she gave so much more to me than just keeping the business alive.
So that sucked. And on some days, it still does suck. I miss the banter. I miss the hilarious conversations. I miss sharing dog photos. And I miss her. Though I know it's for the best - for her, for me, for the business, it still sucks. That was easily the ugliest part of the last couple of months.
Facing The Debt
Yikes. So yer, Be. Bangles is in debt. Is it surprising? Not really. Loz ran the business mostly on her own for the last couple of years, while paying me a full wage when I wasn’t working. Be. Bangles owes the tax man, and there are some medical expenses that still have to be paid off too.
And just as I was wrapping my head around just how much debt the business was in, I got a ‘surprise’ tax bill for my own personal tax debt. So that was exciting. (Yes that line is dripping in sarcasm). I’m not going to give a number, coz I don’t know if I want to be THAT transparent - but let’s just say when you add it all up, it’s a sizeable amount. Maybe I'll share how much once I've paid it off.
One of my goals for this year? Clearing ALL that debt before December. Is it possible? I think so. It’s gunna take something, but now that I’m back and actually capable of working, I’m up for the challenge.
Making a big boo boo and not sending out a whole bunch of orders
I’ve always known that customer service is NOT my forte. And that became blaringly obvious once Loz had left the building. In the first two weeks after Loz had left, I missed sending out about 15 customer orders.
It wasn’t until about a week later when they started emailing saying “where the hell are my bangles?”, that I realised what I’d done. Thankfully, Sarah had started by then - so one her first jobs was cleaning up the mess I’d created. All I can say is thank gawd for Sarah.
Our customers, as always - were gems about the whole thing - though I also gave them all a free bangle to make up for my fuck up. I'm sure that helped. Customer service baby!
The Good (Woo hoo!)
Realising I *CAN* Run A Business and Starting to Believe in Myself Again.
To say that the last couple of years have been a shit storm of epic proportions feels like an understatement.
Getting super sick with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), the abusive relationship with a Harvey Weinstein wannabe, being assaulted by a guy I thought was my best friend, cutting contact with my family of origin, letting go of my ‘American Dream’, getting sicker, getting better, getting sick again, moving countries, leaving my dog in America unsure if I’d be able to get her home, Be. in financial trouble, getting diagnosed with Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (CPTSD) and then saying goodbye to my business partner...
Yeah. It’s been a lot.
And any single one of those events would be enough to shake the belief I had in myself and what I believed I was capable of. Let alone the relentless tsunami of trauma and horse poo that was 2017 and 2018. My confidence was in tatters. Not just about my ability to run a business, but in every area of my life.
Fear drove everything. And by the time I rolled into the end of 2018, I believed that it didn’t matter WHAT I wanted for myself, if life had other plans, all I could do was hold on for dear life and hope I’d survive.
For me, finally taking the time to understand the Complex PTSD diagnosis was a game changer.
Though I’d been diagnosed with CPTSD almost a year earlier, I’d ignored my therapists assessment. I was hell bent on not giving myself another ‘sick girl’ label. But after another disastrous melt down, where I hurt someone I really love, I knew I had to start looking elsewhere for answers. My life felt like one big groundhog day - I’d work hard to get better, something would happen, and I’d fall apart again. I could never seem to sustain ‘getting well’.
Over Christmas, I discovered a book called CPTSD : From Surviving to Thriving by Pete Walker.
This book changed my life. It was like reading my autobiography, except it had been written by someone else. I guess that would make it a biography. But whatever, you get the point.
This magical book helped all the puzzle pieces of my life fall into place.
I finally understood why I was the way I was. Why I felt the way I did. Why I’d trusted and been so fooled by two revolting men (my ex and my former best friend), the role I’d played in my family of origin, and why I continued to play out toxic and dysfunctional behaviours despite my awareness of them.
I finally made sense to myself.
And with that, I started to discover the real me for the first time.
I look back and if Loz had decided to leave the business even a few weeks prior, there is no possible way I would’ve coped. But with the help of this amazing book, I finally had a tool kit to deal with emotional and visual flashbacks as well as everything that was keeping me tied to a dark and painful version of my past.
That book was and still is one of the biggest game changers towards becoming a new version of 'me'.
Phew. That was a long way of explaining it - but I don’t think it’s possible to really gain confidence in one area when every other area of your life is a steaming pile of dog shit. Learning about CPTSD, and what I need to do to heal it, helped me to start believing in myself again.
And now I’m slowly starting to get glimpses of what’s possible - I'm starting to dream again. For me, my life and my business.
It’s been almost 2 months since Loz left, and Be. is still going. It hasn’t fallen apart, and neither have I. And I’m damn fucking proud of that.
Kind of like Finding Nemo, but without the fish.
As with everything over the last couple of months - this was a process. I had to gather up enough confidence that *I* had the ability to choose the right person for our customer service role, then create an awesome Position Description, figure out the best way to recruit, where to post for jobs etc.
Though that little niggling voice of doubt kept telling me I couldn't do it, I ignored it and kept moving forward. I was legitimately amazed at the quality of applications I got through. And for the women who made it into the final round of interviews, I would have been lucky to have any of them!
But Sarah was ‘the one’. She was talented, had way more experience than was required and most importantly she was passionate about Be. and what we stand for.
And she’s been doing a killer job. Like amazing. My biggest fear is that she’s too capable and she’s going to get bored in the role, but she has assured me that isn’t the case. I might just have to annoy her and check in weekly to make sure that's still true.
Okay, that might be a bit too overbearing. I'll let go and trust. Hehe.
So that’s the monthly round up for Jan / Feb. We’ve got so many exciting things in the works over the coming months, so stay tuned. We're moving baby!
Keep going gerl!! They thought I had CRPS, it totally sucks. Turns out I have Psoriatic Arthritis….. it totally sucks 2! I wear at lease one B bangle every day, and i can’t wait for my latest addition (but totally get it if you forget to send for a little while!!) I have had the words “I can do this” on the fridge door since 2001. It gets updated every time I do something that I am proud of…. it started with work but now it is a celebration of things I am proud of………….. it is totally messy and kinda hard to read, but I remember each time I added to it. “I can and I will. Watch me” is perfect. Thank you !!
HOLY SHIT!! I’m thankful for you! And Be. Bangles. And that you’re here, still Kicking ass & Taking names! I’m also glad you’ve now got a wonderful, loving tribe. I can’t do much from across the globe but I believe in You 💖. Take care of you when needed.
You’ve got this! Be proud of yourself.. and if you fall again, you’ll find the strength to get back up. Have faith (in yourself) x