This time last year, I was on a sleepy island in Greece in the middle of an eight week holiday with some of my closest cousins. Fast forward a year and most of the girls I travelled with are on holidays again, while I am in debt for the first time in my life, heading into probably the most crucial 6 to 8 weeks of The Sweet Meadow's journey so far.
I've heard all about how hard work involves "blood, sweat and tears" and I had my first experience with the tears this week.
It was after I took my car in for what I thought was a routine service. They picked up a problem with the brakes and fixed it, but not before handing me a bill for $700. I had budgeted $250 for the service, so forking out an additional $450 may not sound like much, but when you're saving for a business it meant I had to put off paying for something else to stay afloat. After I've paid all of my existing expenses each payday, I am left with around $50 a week (my petrol alone is $40 a week), so I literally spend hours every fortnight trawling through my possessions to find more items to sell on eBay so I can make some extra cash to feed back into the business.
It's been about 10 months since I cut back my day job to four days so I could focus more on The Sweet Meadow. Someone told me that whatever I thought starting this business would cost, double it and it would be a more accurate figure. They were right! So many unexpected costs have come up (even now I have a column of items in my budget that equates to about $20K that I still haven't accounted for financially) and honestly, it scares the shit out of me! Insufficient cash flow is one of the main reasons why food businesses fail (lack of experience is the other main reason, so I'm two for two in that regard), with 80% of businesses going under in the first five years.
A few people have told me I should have waited another year before I started the business so I could save more money, but I know the time is now. I was reading a blog post recently from jewellery designer Samantha Wills who, at the peak of her startup costs, was in $80,000 worth of debt across five credit cards (her company now turns over millions with offices in multiple countries). She mentioned some really powerful advice her Dad gave her in the early days - "Don't let it be money that stops you. Money is the easiest thing to get." It's so true! Anyone can hand you a cheque or loan you some cash, but finding a great business idea and having a strong work ethic is a lot harder to find.
Whenever I feel overwhelmed I remember a few words filmmaker Stephen Spielberg shared in an interview. He was asked how he came about choosing to make some of his most successful films. "The film chooses me," he responded. "Often I don't want to make the film that chooses me to make. I sometimes fight against the urge or intuition to jump into something....Schindler's List chose me. Saving Private Ryan chose me. I didn't chose them. They haunted me until I finally made them. They don't leave me alone."
That's exactly how I feel about The Sweet Meadow. The idea was going to haunt me until I pursued it. I am still learning to be more comfortable with taking risks, listening to my intuition, and pushing myself to try something new, all with having less control over the outcome and less financial security.
Great things happen when you get out of your comfort zone. I know I will be back on a beach in Greece one day and I will be so fulfilled because I made it there with money I earned myself.
The time is now.