The Blessing and the Curse of the Small Business Owner

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Six years ago I opened my restaurant.

I say "I", but in actuality, it was a group effort.

Friends, family, community; lots of people came together to help.

 

Reflecting back it has been amazing to see how much support and love has been directed towards me. So why do I still struggle with anxiety and depression? Why did I completely fall apart within months of opening? I wish I knew. It's not like the business was new to me. I've been in the Food and Beverage industry my entire adult life. Large operations, multi-units, high volume, I've seen it and done it.

So what was my trigger? What is it that keeps me up at night? Makes me twitchy and anxious? It's the employees... the community... the very people who, now, as the owner, I am responsible for. Before, if a dish didn't sell, if the night was slow, no big deal, just move on. Now every penny wasted, every broken dish, or snow storm that closes us down early, is another hurdle to overcome that may be the difference between staying in business or closing for good.

It is easy to be overwhelmed, especially when you are connected to your business in a real and personal way. It is no longer just about you, its about all your employees, the ones you spend forty hours a week with. You know them, their family, their taste in music. You know their struggles, when their kid is sick, when their car breaks down.

The same relationship builds with your regular customers, the vendors you see every week, the other tenants in your building. It quickly becomes not just about you, or your success, but about letting down all these people around you.

If you fail, they are out of a job.

Perhaps that is why so many big CEOs seem so cold and distant; they are emotionally protecting themselves. The idea of being responsible for so many people is daunting. Yet even with the stress I am so very grateful to be in touch with, to feel for, and to embrace my employees as part of my larger family.