It is 4.30 a.m. on a Saturday morning when I should be sleeping in, I am wide-awake, thinking of all the work I need to do over the next few weeks. I toss and turn, and eventually give in and get up.
I must have a stressful job, you think, and definitely a demanding boss if I can't switch off at the weekend, but the trouble is, you see: I am my own boss. I am the business. And therein lies the trap -- the buck stops here, and when you are a solopreneur it truly is lonely at the top, because you are the only one there.
As someone who runs an organization to support women entrepreneurs, a role I have joyfully undertaken for the past ten years, you would think I would have the answers by now. Some of the time I do, but not always.
When you are hosting events there is always an underlying concern that people won't sign up; they won't come and you will be left in the hole, embarrassed by the poor turnout.
Getting "bums in seats" is no easy task these days. People are busy. There are conflicting demands on their time. And they procrastinate. They may know that they are planning to come, but you don't and so there you are, ready to cancel, when voilà at the last minute 20 people sign up. Welcome to my world, it is a bit of a rollercoaster.
This year I have been trying not to play the "numbers" game and be a bit more relaxed about it all, taking the approach that whoever comes is meant to be there and as long as I don't lose my shirt, it will all balance out in the end. This may sound a bit cavalier and naïve, but it is helping me sleep at nights and has reduced my stress level considerably.
So why am I up now? It is our annual Christmas Show. Every year after the event I vow I am not doing it again. Why? First it is a lot of work, but second and perhaps more importantly, like a den mother, I want my vendors to do well and to do that I need people to not just attend, but shop and buy. These days that can be a tall order. And yet, here I am once more entering the lion's den.
Because trust me, when vendors don't do well -- it is my entire fault -- in their eyes, and nothing to do with their product, the economy or even the weather. All it takes is a snowstorm, and your event is toast.
As I write that last paragraph, I start to question myself again -- and why am I doing this? Why am I putting myself under the gun? Again. Well, it is not all doom and gloom and when the show is successful -- it is a beautiful thing, and there is a sense of satisfaction that the women business owners have done well because you introduced them to shoppers.
Oh, there will always be someone who doesn't do as well as they'd hoped. Part of it is managing their expectations but I recognize that it can seem like a personal rejection when few people buy your product.
But when there's a buzz in the room, the Christmas music is playing in the background and the gifts for charity sit under the tree, all is well with the world. And it is that energy and attitude that I need to capture, bottle and store within me, as once more I enter the fray and put myself out there.
Because, as I so quickly advise everyone else, if you don't believe in yourself and what you are doing, how can you ask others to do so. Time I took my own advice.
So I have decided that this year Eat. Shop. Play. is going to rock. Crowds are going to come and spend their money with my vendors and the family we are supporting this Christmas is going to be joyful at the gifts under their tree.
There -- I have said it. I have put it out there. So let the universe unfold.