I've done all the dumb things - reflections on the first year of RBC
I woke up this morning thinking ‘1 year. We’ve come along way’. Immediately the next thought rushes straight in and bumps the first out of the way ‘Yeah but you still have so much to do. 1 year is nothing in the grand scheme of things’. Reality check.
Thanks ‘yeahbut’ (the affectionate name I picked up off a friend for that little voice that does no good to your self esteem that starts all his sentences with ‘yeah but…’). YeahBut has a point but I thought just for today I would give myself a break and have a day of being thankful and appreciative that I have the opportunity to build this community (albeit slowly at times). I should remember that yes, it's only 1 year but 365 days closer and a much better position to be than having that idea sitting scrawled in a notebook on the shelf. So I decide with that I will spring out of bed, shower, dress and get ready for my day.
I do all my best thinking in the shower. ‘Today is going to be a good day. I bet my husband is going to take me to lunch to mark the occasion. My kids will tell me how they think I am the best mum ever and they want to grow up to be just like me. I will smash out my work for the day, put on something nice for dinner, tuck my kids into bed and have a glass of red in the bath.’
Then I get out of the shower.
My 4 year old drags his feet into the bathroom. Muuumm. He looks like death. ‘Oh darling, whats wrong?’ I coo as I put my hand to his forehead. A temperature - frickin fantastic. That's ok 4 mls of Nurofen and a teaspoon of tough and he’ll be fine. I catch a glimpse of some spots on his hands. Blisters. Oh great don’t tell me… I check his mouth. Ulcers. Yep, great, Hand Foot and Mouth. Sensational. I knew it was going around but for some reason I always think those warnings don’t apply to me. It's all in the mind. My kids have amazing immune systems. They called my bluff. Little buggers.
Ok sweetheart let's bundle you up and pop you in my bed. Propped up with water and the Netflix remote. That’ll buy me a bit of time.
Miss 8 bounds out of her room all smiles. Phew! Ok she is good to go. We do the morning thing, breakfast, hair, teeth, tell her 75 times to put her shoes on, and off to the bus.
Haven’t laid eyes on husband since I got in the shower, he had to get away early. I hate it when he goes without saying goodbye. But I stop myself from making a deal of it and roll on. I’ll see him at lunch. The beauty of having a farmer husband.
Ok the day is still recoverable. I am at my desk by 9. Right on schedule. I check my calendar and get cracking on the first task. Tap tap tap tap away on the keyboard. 15 minutes in a slight headache, but nothing life threatening. Tap tap tap. Gee I’m feeling a bit achy in my back and shoulders. Panadol and tap tap tap. By lunch I was that fogged in I couldn't string a sentence together. I had a podcast interview to do so I dig around the medicine draw for something. Read the labels and take whichever has the most medical hardcore sounding ingredients in it. That's got it.
Meanwhile my little guy in the bed watching Netflix is so snug and probably shouldn't be moving. So, lunch is off. I don’t really feel like it either at this stage.
The day progresses as you might imagine. More nurofen and Netflix for the little guy. More nasal spray, tissues and tap tap tap for me. So the day didn’t reflect my imaginings in the shower earlier that day. But perhaps it was a bit indulgent and the world wanted to remind me that there was work to do. Either way, Chicken Schnitty and Lemon Lime Bitters for lunch or not, I did take a couple of minutes to reflect on 2 things that were good moves and 2 things that were just plain dumb.
When you launch a business via a crowdfunding campaign it's almost in reverse. You have to go public and start rolling a little bit before you normally would. I was lining up for the leap but someone gave me a little push. I heard it being likened to throwing yourself off a cliff and making the parachute as you go down. Couldn’t agree more!
- Saying No. Throughout the year there were lots of conversations with amazing, fun, like-minded people all wanting to make rural Australia a better place. Partnerships, collaborations, joint projects, promotions were all talked about. But I said no. With lots of love and respect no, or atleast a not right now. To all of them. Taking on too many shiny things so early in the piece would have been distracting and taken the attention away from the first year objective of building the community and refining the offering. There were so many avenues and side tracks we could go down. But we (RBC, Me and the members) needed to get clear on exactly what is core business. What was actually needed, not what looked like fun and was filled with the latest buzz words (if I hear the word hustle one more time I will barf I swear). Now in year 2 I can see that these sorts of relationships will be fantastic and a great way to expand what we do, but I needed that first year to do some more listening.
- Removing the Option. When I launched this I had in my mind built this great model where I had several businesses that all flexed around each other and would together provide great cash flow and security. But instead of having multiple revenue streams I had created multiple distractions. Multiple revenue streams work in a lot of situations. But not when one of them is a startup. My theory was that this project will ‘take off’ after x amount of hours. So if I am diluting myself between projects and doing x hours at half rate it will only take longer. So some would say this belongs on the dumb list - but I closed my consulting business and sacked all my paying clients! In doing that I removed all options. I took away my safety net. Before I had a back up plan, if this all went to hell in a handbasket I would just focus more on consulting or one of my other projects. Subconsciously I think there were some limiting effects of this safety net. So now - there is no option. No plan B. I’m all in.
- Bootstrapping no-nos. In the first 3 months I spent money on some duummmb stuff. Things that I thought I needed to make an impression, to look professional and legit. Hello large 3D logo worth $1500! Did I think I was hosting a TED Talk?! More printed material than you can poke a stick at. Did I forget I was running a predominantly virtual business? I have learnt that I can talk myself into anything and justify any purchase. How I wish I could do that all over again! It’s safe to say this here because my husband doesn't do ‘the internet’ or social media - but I should have listened to my husband and been much more frugal.
- Ask the question and use networks. This sounds strange as I consider myself great at identifying ways to leverage networks but I ran a series of workshops across Queensland and I paid full rate for venues in every town I went to. Until I got to one spot and realised the hall I had hired was simply too big, so I asked if we could use a smaller meeting room. They offered their board room to us for free! For free! I wanted to make sure I was doing my bit in each town and paying my way. But at the end of the day I ran the workshops at a loss, justifying it as a marketing initiative, when if I had have been smarter and ran them at a profit or at least neutral cost I would be out there doing them more and not so worried about the drain of getting on the road and doing workshops. Duh!
A few lessons there and I am sure they won’t stop. There are plenty more dumb things and smart things to come. Last night as I traded my red wine in the bath for Lemsip under the doona and toasted the 100 members that signed up this year to take the ride, I have to say - I am so excited for the year to come.