Today is our 9th year in business! It is so hard to believe that a few bows in a shared booth at a craft fair turned into a business that is 9 years running. I still can't believe that a mom of two with a degree in English Literature (don't judge my grammar) is running an exclusively USA-made small business.
I have often wondered how I found myself in such an unexpected position in life. I know nothing about business ownership. Running a small business has been a daily struggle for me. Yet, I know this role is part of God's plan for my life.
The empty spool of ribbon above was the first 100-yard roll that I ever purchased. Up to that time I had been using much smaller 5-yard rolls. My sales were steady, but it still seemed like a possibly wasteful risk. It was in the most commonly used color (white) that was mostly used to make the knot centers of the second most popular size bow. Since the 5-yard roll was more costly per yard, I decided to take the leap and purchase the entire 100 yards.
Having enough orders to use that ribbon was my measure of success at the time. I wish I could remember the date that it was completely gone. I know it was several years and a few more employees later. So much later that I was a bit embarrassed when they found the scribbled note on the side.
Today I purchase 100-yard rolls almost exclusively to make our bow centers. I now have racks full of these spools and a completely different measure of success. The truth is that I didn't feel like the business was a success when I pulled the last of that ribbon off the roll and I still don't feel like it is a success today.
This is the unfortunate truth for many small business owners I believe. It is much easier to see the glass half empty than half full. We always see the areas of lack, instead of the areas of abundance. It is precisely those areas that have kept me on my knees before God, constantly asking for His help because I feel ill-equipped for this role I have found myself in. The constant fear of being unable to make rent or payroll looms regularly. I go through times of total faith and times of complete faithlessness.
Through it all, God counsels me and answers when I pray. He ensures payroll is met and bills are paid with sales pouring in from unknown sources at times. He answers my prayers for help with instructions and insights that are not my own. He has opened doors for me to receive various types of business training, such as Dale Carnegie and Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses. He enabled our business to move from a small, quiet town to a bustling downtown area.
Through each and every year in business, His help has come in many forms. He provided employees when I had none. He provided inspiration when I needed some. He brought sales when I thought we were done. As I was about to shut the doors to our business, He flung open wide the doors for our new location.
As I look back at the last nine years in business I am incredibly grateful to God and how He has made it possible for our doors to remain open. Most importantly, I am grateful that He brought the many customers our way that we get to make products for and whose lives we get to be a part of in our small way. Without Him and them, we would not be celebrating nine years in business today!