And in the spirit of full transparency (cuz that’s one of the Prosperity Kitchen values), I’d like to share my story with you. The hope is that this gives Future You something to look to as an example for how to solve big, hairy ass problems. Because they WILL happen. In direct proportion to your big, hairy goals.
Here’s what went down…
My friend, colleague and Prosperity’s Kitchen biz partner (Kim, aka The WordPress Chick) came to me in late August with the news that she needed to step down as our co-producer. There just wasn’t enough bandwidth in her rock band for her to give her full attention to all of what needed to be done.
And since there’s no guarantee that we’ll ever see a profit from this venture, she had to make the hard (and correct for her) decision to step back.
I totally get it. She’s got two kids, a mortgage and a business of her own that needs looking after. Those are REAL priorities.
And I agreed that she needed to put all of that first.
To be honest, I’d also been a little freaked out over the amount of work that lay before us (we had a pretty ambitious marketing plan). I wondered myself how the heck we were going to make it all happen.
I mean — we’re only human, right?
Plus — I’ve got a boatload of things to deal with, too. Mr. Perfect and I are moving next month and I’ve got bills that won’t pay themselves.
So, hey! Why the hell did I ever think I could pull this off?
What happened next was I panicked.
Clearly, I had a huge choice to make. Should I give up now and throw in the towel? Or was there a way to pull this off without Kim’s help?
I had no idea.
So here’s how I tackled the problem:
I drank a bottle of syrah. I cried. I called my mom. I asked Mr. Perfect what he thought I should do (he was still optimistic). I scheduled an emergency meeting with my mastermind group.
And then? I said a little prayer to the Universe. I asked for help. I asked for a sign. Should I hang on? Or should I let go?
Over the course of that next day, I received a ton of supportive messages from the Universe.
Not the least of which was an actual phone call from a gentleman by the name of Steve Washer (aka The Brainy Video guy) who I had just a day earlier invited to join the Prosperity’s Kitchen as one of our guest mentors.
He called to tell me what a fantastic idea it was and that there was no way I could stop him from participating. His enthusiasm floored me. (Normally, I feel lucky if the A-lister guys just respond to my emails, period. You know?)
A little later that day, I stumbled across a video that I’d seen before but which evidently I needed to see again.
I highly recommend you take 3 minutes and watch it, too:
*FILD = “Fuck it, let’s DO this.”
Needless to say, the Universe SPOKE. And I heard It loud and clear.
So I took a deep breath and put one foot in the front of the other. Not knowing exactly how I was going to solve this massive puzzle.
What I Usually Do (but Didn’t Do this Time)
In most cases, when I’m faced with a business problem of any magnitude, I usually turn to Google to see if someone’s already found an answer.
Why? Because it’s usually the shortest distance between where I am and how to get where I want to be.
And also? Because I don’t have to ask anyone else for help.
Yes, it makes me feel smart when I can solve my own problems. (Even if, technically, I do it with Google’s help.)
But this time, I couldn’t see how even the Big G Overlords would have a solution that would work for me.
I had a list of things that needed to get done. And a limited amount of time and resources to make them happen.
And I knew I’d have to pull out the BIG guns. Yep, it was time to ask real live humans for ideas.
Start With Your Circle
The only thing I knew to do next was to reach out to those who might care about whether or not this project came to life.
So, I sent an email to the folks on the Word Chef PB&J list. I told ’em what was up. I told them the story that I’m telling you, now.
And surprise, surprise — they wrote back!
Their responses were full of heart and before you could say hot-buttered-croissant, I found myself in tears. Again.
But this time, they were tears of relief.
What do you say when someone writes:“ Oh Tea! How you have stoked the fire of entrepreneurship in my belly with this newsletter and ignited it once again with Ze Frank’s video! Like you, and Kim, and all of the other small business owners out there, I’ve been covered up with this thing called “life” too. It sits on me like a 4 ton elephant and just when I think I have enough space to escape, here comes its brothers and sisters to take over the sit fest. Enough about pachyderms, I wanted YOU to KNOW that your message is getting out here to us. You’re dedication to sharing your knowledge, talent, and hard work is not going unnoticed. So thank you Tea, for being the creative person you are and for sharing that awesome creativity with the rest of us to keep us hungry for more.
There were also several generous offers (from people I hardly know!) to help in anyway they could.
I was stunned, thrilled and full of hope all at once.
So I brought them together and formed the AmBUZZadors — a small band of ferociously enthusiastic volunteers willing to help spread the buzz about what we are up to here. (For the record, this particular idea was borrowed from one Mike Michalowicz who created a similar team to help him with the launch of his latest book, “The Pumpkin Plan.” I was on that team, so I got to see first hand how powerful a group of advocates can be.)
Then I decided I needed more help. I needed people who might have some insight into how to pull this kind of thing off. This meant beefing up the Advisory Board, too.
I reached out to influencers who I thought could provide some wisdom, insight and yes — help spreading the word.
Here’s where we stand today:
With the help of all these people, we’ve been able to generate enough word of mouth that an additional two dozen contestant applications were received over the last couple weeks.
Has every problem been solved? No.
Do I know exactly how this project is going to happen? No.
But, I’ve got a vision. And I’m back to being excited about the possibilities — crazy scared still, yes — but excited.
And that’s okay. It’s a feeling I can live with because I know that I’m not in this alone.
And you? You’re not in this alone, either.
If you ever get into a small business pickle, here’s my advice:
1. Stop and breathe. Okay, and drink a bottle of syrah, if that’s your thing. Just don’t let yourself fall so deeply into panic mode that you can’t get out again. You won’t do anyone any good wasting your energy and brain cells on panic.
2. Make a list of what you know needs to happen or what you feel should happen. Put a star by anything you don’t quite know how to pull off yourself. Taking an inventory is a great way to distract the lizard brain.
3. Reach out to your friends, family, colleagues and yes — even those you might call your “prospects.” You never know who will have an answer, an idea or a resource for you.
Most importantly, don’t EVER be afraid to be vulnerable. We’re all human. We all make mistakes. And brainstorming your way out of a problem usually takes more than one lump of grey matter.
One last thing: Don’t wait until you’re in a pickle to build relationships. Yes, you’ve got ME. And I am SO here for you, my friend. But you’re going to need a village at some point and it’s best if you start to build it NOW.
Until then, what do YOU need? What challenges are you facing in your own business right now? Tell us in a comment below…we’re all ears! Maybe we’ve got an idea for you!
This post is part of the September 2012 Word Carnival — a monthly group blogging event specifically for small business owners. (It’s the most fun you’ll have all month!) We’re a tight-knit group of kick-ass writers who’ve been blogging together for just over a year now. Check out the rest of this month’s fabulous carney work here.