Saturday, September 21, 2013

on asking for help.

Would you like to know what happens when you have the courage to ask for help?

You get it. 

And instead of working late and coming home tearful with tired feet and aching back, you find yourself sitting on your couch, watching football, listening to the rain on a wide-open Saturday afternoon. 

Something happened this week. 

Yes, I had a bout with allergies that forced me to stay home in bed Monday and Tuesday. 

But Wednesday, I tackled marketing and authors' events and design work. 

Thursday, I paid bills all by myself. (This is a big deal.)

Friday, I ran the store and interviewed a couple of new filler employees, people designed to come in to the store and work on an "as needed" basis. 

Today, I straightened up the children's section, placed orders, and left right when I needed to. 

You know why? 

Because slowly, surely, I'm getting the help I need. 

We're a small establishment, sure. 

But for an independent bookstore in a small town, The Bookshelf is actually a pretty big space. It requires a lot of maintenance and attention, but because it's a small business, there aren't a lot of people to give it the maintenance and attention it needs. The store's needs fall on a very small group of people -- actually, if we're being honest, two -- and the resulting pressure had begun to take its toll, both on me and on the senior sales associate. 

There are a lot of parts to this small business thing that are difficult for me. But one task I really like and think I'm especially capable of is problem solving. Give me a problem, and with some time and effort, I generally can come up with a reasonable solution. It's like a puzzle. (A large, expensive puzzle, but still.)

With some maneuvering, I think I've been able -- maybe, fingers crossed -- to solve this problem. We've added a new junior sales associate who takes care of the store during our new extended hours, and we've got a couple of new employees who will come in as fillers on busy days, holidays, and weekends. This alleviates so much pressure from me, and because we've maneuvered the scheduled hours for other staff members, I think it's going to be a financially reasonable solution too. 

I like being in control. I like having my finger on the pulse of all the comings and goings of the store. 

But if I am going to do this long-term, if Jordan and I are going to be entrepreneurs for the next few years as we enter parenthood and beyond, the only way we can do it is with help. 

Is hiring new staff fun? 

Not particularly. There are interviews and training and trying to figure out if your gut is an accurate thermometer for major business decisions. 

But finding help is necessary. Developing a team who will support you and make your dreams come true is imperative. 

I'm not saying things are perfect. I'm not even saying the problem is fully solved. 

But today, I'm home earlier than usual. I'm watching football. I'm listening to rain. 

And I'm grateful that maybe, just maybe, better days -- more days like this -- are around the bend. 

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