What is it about changing the final number in a year that really does make you feel like there is a reset button attached to it? I am not one for resolutions and usually, it is on my birthday that I like to goal set, but 2017 was a big year and I find myself so looking forward to 2018.
This year (2017) was probably my biggest roller coaster yet and it had some big climbs and big falls. I would always say at the end of the year “time flew this year,” or “that felt like yesterday,” but the years previous were a waltz compared to the fast swing of 2017.
Each Christmas my husband and I travel to my in-laws in upstate New York for the holidays. It is nice having a place that I go to at the same time every year because I remember what I was thinking the year before and I am able to reflect a bit easier being away from the business for a few days. I can barely remember what I ate yesterday, but when I am in upstate New York at the holidays, I remember what was going on the year before. I am able to ask myself if I feel the same? Different? Anxious (Note: I am anxious constantly- so this is always yes)? Excited? Ready to take on the world? Ready to crawl into a hole?
Last year, just before New Years, I found out the great news that I was accepted into a business program, Goldman Sachs 10K Small Business Program. I cried on the phone when I got the call at Panera, telling me that I got in, and ran outside to jump up and down. I really had no expectation of the program, but I was excited. I was excited to gain the tools I needed to take control of my businesses and grow them to the next level. Because of my acceptance into the program, I had a new found confidence and excitement. It was a wonderful feeling especially since I spent Christmas Eve of 2015, rerouting Gundalow Juice packages that FedEx was not going to be able to deliver until a week after they were supposed to arrive at our customers’ doorsteps (some of you might remember this and a long email from me apologizing) and since we have a perishable product this was a big problem.
So to sum it up: Holidays 2015 – in tears of “why in the heck did I become a business owner, Holidays 2016 – in tears of “I am so glad I am a business owner!” And then this year: Holidays 2017- tears of frustration.
This wasn’t the year I was expecting, but it was the year I needed and it will probably be the one that changes me the most moving forward. This year I had the most incredible opportunities and I have become friends with some of the most amazing human beings on the planet. I have shaken hands with people that I had only read about in books and admired from afar. But overall, still frustrated.
Earlier this year, we had to change 95% of our logistics in the course of a week and it was a very scary ordeal. We had worked so incredibly hard for three years to build Gundalow Juice and in the course of a week, its future was completely in question. My mother and I prepared ourselves for the worst, we asked ourselves, is this the end? It wasn’t the path we had planned or expected and of course not what we wanted. I was ashamed and embarrassed, I had tied myself together with a smile, but I was coming undone and it wasn’t pretty. A vendor who we had partnered with for two years was no longer going to be our partner, we were too small for the operation and they recommended some other vendors to us. The problem was, we were out of juice and we had orders to fill. So we had to interview, meet, and then trust these new vendors to make our juice after talking to them for about a week. It was the toughest test Gundalow Juice has been through and believe it or not, it all worked out for the better. We now work with a team of small businesses that treat their business they way we treat ours. They have become part of our family and we are so grateful for them. Our customers and clients were more than understanding and once again we are so grateful for them. Incredible people surround us and for that, we are very lucky.
With all of this said, I thought we would be further along this year than we are. I try to be patient with myself, but this frustration is being converted into a fire. Fire to light up 2018 because we have the tools to make it happen, the juices to make it happen, and the ambition to make it happen. 2017 has been humbling, to say the least. Life will always send curveballs, even after you think you are perfectly equipped and prepared.
Some of the larger, national juice companies have gone out of business this year. For many of them, they grew too big, too fast. Too much money led to poor decisions. I didn’t become a small business owner because I wanted to be a sexy start-up owner, fundraise a ton of money, and somehow make juice a tech company. The team at Gundalow and I have always wanted to simplify the healthy life in the most delicious way, even if it isn’t simple for us. We will continue to do just that, growing at a speed that makes sense for organic growth that does not make us compromise our quality or force us to overleverage our business. So when I think about it more I might be frustrated, but I am also really damn proud of us. We had a major set back and we are getting back on track and we know what to do. And if we are set back again then we will change our sails once again and sail into the wind, like we always do.
Bring it on 2018, I’m fired up and not afraid.