The Conscious CEO & The Awakened Corporate: What I’ve Learned Two Years Into the Business
by Jennifer Peters | Apr 30, 2019
This week marks our 2 year anniversary of being open. Two Years. In part it seems like a lifetime ago. Another part feels like it’s happened in the blink of an eye. What I do know is that the days can feel long, but the year’s feel short. But so much learning has happened. On the day to day level, it’s so easy to look at the progress and be…unimpressed. However, I really wanted to sit down and look at the progress we’ve made and honestly, I’m really proud. There are SO many areas of progress to where we are today from where we first started and even to where we were a month ago! It’s really important to celebrate those successes and milestones – and that’s in part why we are having our 2nd annual team appreciation party tomorrow night. It is a milestone and the team have so much to do with that. I forget often to celebrate the successes – because my mind is always racing about what the next thing is that needs to be done! So, I’m learning the importance of small celebrations! However, so much has been learnt the last two years and each day is a new lesson for me. If you’re just starting your journey or in those early phases, here’s the Top 10 Things I’ve learnt in the last two years:
It’s a self-development journey. I now realize that I’m not meant to have it all figured out. It’s meant to be a journey in discovery. It’s meant to grow me, stretch me, expand my horizon, test every single cell of my body, make me cry and make me high. It IS a journey, and now that I realize that the ups and downs are handled with less suffering and more peace. I actually told a journalist recently that my determination of success isn’t simply the numbers – but also, “Am I learning?”, “Am I progressing?” or “Am I expanding my horizon & growing?” If yes, I’m successful
It will never all be done. And I’m a list girl. I love my lists. But it’s too exhausting to chase a list all day, every day. I simply can’t do the entire list on a daily basis. Oh and the biggest learning within this – I can’t do it all by myself! Shocker, cause I’m pretty freaking fast, organized, can multi-task like a beast and all that and none of that is reduced by asking for help. You need to ask for help too!
Value the people that talk TO you, not ABOUT you. I used to spend way too much time focusing on people who spent their time talking about me instead of talking to me. I’d try to find ways to “make” them happy, respond faster to their requests, problem-solve their issues, pump them up, pander, etc. Honestly, whether they are employees, vendors, customers or partners in some way, if you have people talking about you rather than to you – cut them loose or if they go otherwise, don’t fight for them. And the ones that come to you with challenges or suggestions or want to collaborate on how to improve – pour all your effort into them. It took me awhile to figure this out because if you’re a secret people pleaser like I am, then these things can weigh on you. But I’ve come to a point where I’m not interested in trying to figure out what makes someone else happy. At the same time I feel so completely engaged when someone wants to come to me with ideas to work together on solving issues.
Prioritize sleep over exercise. Boy has this been hard for me to do. I have always loved exercise. But starting a business is both stressful and time consuming and choices have to be made to fit it all in. If the choice is: go to the gym, get home later, make dinner by 8:30pm, finish work etc etc and 10-11pm will be bed time at best – I make the choice to maybe put on my Asana Rebel yoga app at home and simply get 10-20 min in at the house. Or I choose to miss it. Sleep is SO vital to being able to function in a way your business needs you to. I try extremely hard to be in bed by 9:30pm latest, and I like to wake up at 5:30am so I can greet the day. Sleep is essential – don’t skimp on it.
Take 100% responsibility but don’t take responsibility for others. This has been huge for me. In November I was at a leadership/investment accelerator and received the best advice during the week. We are not meant to take 100% of our own responsibility as well as the responsibility of others. Don’t take 150% and allow others to have 50%. This was game-changing for me. I always felt bad if someone didn’t hold up their end of the deal and would happily take over – but then later would feel frustrated. While I was at this conference, there was a situation where a team member had overlooked a key staffing solution on the schedule and sent me a text to let me know, asking what I could do to fix the problem. As I fretted how I would fix it, and thought of ways I could drive down, leaving the leadership program, etc, my Head Chef, and amazing colleague who was at the conference with me, looked at me and said: “This is you taking more responsibility. This was a mistake on their end, you had warned them in advance and now you let them fix it and take responsibility for their mistake.” And it was SO FREEING to respond back letting them know I would be happy to offer input on their solutions but that it was up to them to resolve the conflict on the schedule.
You will exhaust yourself if you try to take the responsibility that others have been hired to do, especially if they are employees or partners or vendors where there is an agreement in what work they will be delivering. Your job is to serve them with the best tools and support, and ensure that expectations are clear with their areas of responsibility.
It’s a miracle any business gets off the ground. This is honestly something I have learnt and I give HUGE hat’s off to all the entrepreneurs out there building thriving businesses. It takes sheer hard work & dedication and a lot of saying “no thank you” to social engagements and more to put the work in that’s needed to grow a business. And that’s just part of it – government taxation, labor laws, permitting, regulation and more is not designed to support small businesses at all. I have SO MUCH RESPECT for businesses that are growing & have done this before me and I soak up any opportunity to learn from others. Talk to other business owners & don’t sit in the struggle!! I also have compassion for businesses that I have worked for in the past and better understand the hoops that owners go through.
When you are clear about the people you want with you on this journey, they will find you. In the beginning, I thought that any employee that wanted a job, any vendor that wanted to work with us, any landlord that would allow us into the space – was just “fine” and I was grateful that they would be with us. But what a disempowering way of thinking about the worth that you bring others!
Because what this brought to me was also just “fine” – vendors that didn’t honor delivery times or actively source unusual ingredients we needed, chefs that didn’t care about the quality of a dish or who wouldn’t put the extra effort in to resolve a cooking process, etc. And after a lot of headache, once I got clear on wanting to attract people who took pride in their work, had integrity, were passionate about what we’re doing – they started to come. We have an amazing partner in one of our biggest suppliers who works hard to find us the unique ingredients we need that are free-from so much junk, and in our managerial team we have attracted some of the best talent we’ve ever had. We have legal, marketing and IT people that are on our same page and want to do things 100% better than “just fine.” Get clear on what you want – and it will find you.
As soon as you possibly can get yourself to work ON the business vs IN the business, the better. I always had set an intention for it. I instinctively knew this was the best way to develop the business. But once you’re “in it” it’s way harder to extract yourself from the daily grind. There’s staffing challenges, or training issues or you’re the only one who knows how to fix the dishwasher or…sometimes you just aren’t ready to release it as trust hasn’t been built. Or you’ve been let down by handing it off before so now you’re really scared. I think so long as you have the intention to really release and let go – it will happen. But the sooner you can hire the right people, get the right structures in place, take the time to painfully write down all the processes and details so that others can pick it up, the better. I’m so removed from certain aspects of the business now so that I can focus on the things I’m best at. The people that I’ve put in place to do things I was doing, are doing it better – they have better skills and I’m not so stretched trying to “do it all.”
Constantly ask yourself if “X the highest and best use of my time?” I have wasted so much time doing things that were not the highest and best use of my time. In part because I just like to jump into things, in part because I didn’t hold others accountable for doing it (eg. I was taking more responsibility than needed) & in part because you’re often the only one! So outsource sh** as soon as you can!! I got a virtual assistant early on to do the errand running that is constant in the business. I finally hired an operations manager that kicks booty big time and structures her day well to resolve all the equipment issues, supply needs or “fix it jobs” that come up daily – where as it would take me forever to do them and never as good. It’s really important to ensure that as an owner you’re spending time where you can best serve the wider team and drive the business forward. It’s way more important for me to be sorting out HR and financial admin work than running around getting more mason jars for example but both tasks are needed!
Love yourself. Daily. Business ownership isn’t made for the faint-hearted. It’s easy to be hard on yourself, and it’s super easy to spend days giving and giving to others in terms of your time, praise and energy. So, I’ve learnt that I need to also take time for me, and create balance. I wake up super early so I can have a few hours to myself to meditate, do mobility, spend time with the dogs, get things tidy and organized or work out. I’m learning more and more to love the parts of me that make the business move forward. But I’m pretty good now at treating myself in a loving way. I need to do more fun and social things, get out in nature more which I love and be more present. I intellectually know these things – but over the last two years, getting to a place where my morning is my sacred time for ME has been a success and I will grow from that.
Take time to remember where you were and where you are now. Holy moly, take time to see the progress. I don’t do it often enough but when I do, I’m so grateful. Chase and I had a call the other day and I was walking along a route that I used to park to get to the restaurant in the early days. And I said to him, I can remember crying walking into to work because it was just so hard and crazy and we didn’t have the right people, processes and stabilizers in place yet at that time. And he and I laughed at how different things were now as we recalled a few past incidents. These are the things you need to remember and be sooooooo proud about. Savor those moments.
You’re doing your BEst with the tools that you have – don’t think less of yourselves in any way. Much love, Happy BErthday to Just BE Kitchen and any other business out there hitting a 2 day, week, month or year milestone.