Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Atop the tight-rope looking down . . .

One of the biggest challenges of life is balance. Being your own boss means you need to be self motivated, being your own boss in retail means you need to be just a little bit insane. Insane self motivated people have a really really hard time with the concept of balance.
Retail means never taking a day off. At least until you can afford to pay someone to cover that day. Retail means never hiding in your office, no matter how crappy the day has gone or how miserable you feel. You must always great that customer with a smile and no hint of the misery of the previous couple of hours, or the fact your allergy medication isn’t working, or that mother nature is making you wish you could call in sick and curl up in a little ball with a heating pad and a book and not get up until tomorrow.
You say “Good morning! How can I help you?” and a big, genuine smile, as if that person stepping into your store has brought total joy to your day. Because it has. Without that person, without each and every customer who steps in, even just to browse, you don’t have a business. Happy browsers eventually become happy customers. Who tell others who then also become happy customers. I have never understood retail sales clerks who treat customers as if they are interrupting their day. It’s just plain bad business.
But, this isn’t a rant about bad customer service, THAT is another post entirely. This is a ramble about the challenge of managing a retail business, a home, a family, a marriage and your own sanity.
So, for myself I have an amazing, supportive, hardworking husband who also happens to be in sales. So he has his business to manage, his client’s needs and his volunteer schedule to put in our pot ‘o craziness. We have one child young enough to need a babysitter or parent around when he isn’t in school, and others young enough that things like meals and transportation are still the role of the parents. And they have their sports, friends, school events and such we need to consider. I have retail store hours to keep and of course then there is house work, meals, a beautiful big yard needing spring clean up at the moment, my volunteer items, our church commitments and our extended family. Some time for friends and a social life sure would be nice. And somewhere in there we also need to make time for our marriage. Is it any wonder that one last minute change, one star out of alignment, one thing that just isn’t working can really mess up the works? How do we keep that pot from boiling over?
In all honesty, I don’t know. I just know we have to. So we keep a menu so kids get fed even when we don’t have time to eat what we cook. We keep a sense of who is responsible for what so that we can pretend no one feels like they have to do everything, even though I know each of us do sometimes. We keep the need to reconnect with each other on our priority list because we know at the end of it, without our marriage and family the rest of it means nothing. And we work to keep our sense of humour. Because you just have to be able to laugh at yourself and how hard we work to not have to ‘work’ for someone else.

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