We were on a call this week and as someone was describing us, they said, "...in the start up phase. Well, you're not a start up. Growth phase. Emerging brand..." And then it trailed off into a kind of overview of who we were and onto the next topic that we were discussing. It made me stop and think, "what are we?"
So many people think that the moment they see your product on a shelf in a real store that you've somehow reached the top of the heap and now spend all of your days counting the money that will help you sail into a pain free future. But the reality is far from that. It's hard to answer the question "how's the business going?" in the same way that it's hard to answer someone who waves and asks, "how are you?" as they continue walking past. There's no time for the truth. So we just smile and say, "good" or "fine" or (my least favorite) "busy".
This small business week, the first that I remember acknowledging, I'm struck by the overwhelming achievement of survival. In a year that none of us could have prepared for, when school lunches weren't being packed and less road trip snacks and camp snacks and beach snacks and vacation snacks were needed. Less on-the-go convenience and less predictability were secured. In a year where women owned businesses took an enormous hit as children came home from school and at our sides, needing help with school. In a year like that, survival got an upgrade because so many didn't have the fortune to make it.
Being a small business, in a sea of very large businesses makes you realize that there are a lot of different ways to describe ourselves because while you're on your way, you are constantly changing. It's the same reason why you don't describe a 7 year old in the same way that you describe an 11 year old or an 18 year old or a 23 year old. Growth takes on a million, tiny little changes and stages. We are happy to be under the "small business" umbrella and recognize that none of us look or experience the journey the same. We are okay being hard to describe. Our hope for and sights on "future us" puts us in the company of every other small business out there. That hope is universal.