Tuesday, March 10, 2015

To Blog, or Not To Blog: That is the question

Well, it has been my question, not necessarily the question, since starting a new small business a couple of years ago. I realize the question does not yield the same importance as it did for Hamlet’s to be soliloquy. I mean, he was asking some really BIG life questions! Wondering aloud about revenge and the meaning of life versus death. So, no, my question is not as deep nor will it yield as much meaning, but it is, alas, a question with which I have wrestled. 

I have bemoaned the challenge and pondered the consequences and alternatives of not writing said blog (maybe I am a bit like Hamlet after all!). Well, today ladies and gentlemen of the blogosphere, I have chosen to put down my own personal sword of hesitation and pick up my ‘pen’ and blog!

My pre-blog beginnings:

I use to teach high school. Yep, for 15 years I taught social studies. My husband worked in the corporate world.  We both left our careers and opened a secondhand store called Find of the Day in Fort Collins, CO. We also own and have trademarked The ReSale Trail, a tour of local resale businesses.  The whys and hows of starting our business I will save for another blog spot (yikes, guess that means I’m committing to…dare I say it?…starting a blog!).

Why today of all days? Why is today Blog Day?!

Today we celebrate our two year anniversary of opening Find of the Day! Yay! For all of you business owners out there, you know the importance of making it to this milestone.  Recent research shows us “that most failures of American startups will occur in the first two years of their existence” (www.linkedin.com/pulse/20140921225654-8175758-business-failure-stats-reasons-summary).

Before even opening our doors on January 23rd, 2013 we of course wanted our business to be successful well beyond that two year scare mark.  We had done a lot of research and business plan development and clearly knew that strong marketing is one of the key steps to starting and sustaining a successful new business.  What did that mean for any business in this new millennium of technology? What did marketing mean, specifically, for our secondhand consignment shop?  We were new to business owning, so we sought out expert advice from expert marketers! We attended seminars, hired a marketing company, networked with other business owners, and even went ‘old school’ by just plain ol’ googling “marketing new business ideas”. We learned quickly that we had to implement properly all available social media tools. You know the drill:  set up Facebook, twitter and tweet regularly, obtain a large email audience and send mass mailings, pin pictures on Pinterest, build a user friendly web page, and (of course you saw this coming) write a blog. Over and over again we were told that Find of the Day had to have a blog. 

A Blog!

Hearing the very word “blog” exhausted me, and yet I was being told by experts that I should (an almost must) write a blog.  I did understand the importance and I didn’t want to fight the blog battle.  I trust experts and I actually don’t mind writing. I have found myself, in fact, missing it since I left teaching. 

But a blog?  I just couldn’t begin.  I tried. I did more good ol’ fashioned google searches on writing and starting blogs. I read and read and read others’ blogs. I enjoyed many of those but still no personal inspiration for writing my own.

What would I, what could I, blog about?

I was advised I ought to blog about my passions within my business and warned that if I didn’t blog about a real passion, then it would backfire and work against our business.  That was intimidating.

More importantly, I was scared I wasn't able to name my passion.  It was suggested by some I write about my passion for refinishing furniture. While I will redo some pieces, and I do look forward to hosting conversations about that topic, it’s not a driving passion of mine.  It’s not why we started Find of the Day.  Plus, it’s already been done. There are many of you talented furniture re-doers and re-purposers already successfully blogging.  And you do it so well (I’ve even met a few of you in our store…thank you!).

So I blew of blogging.

Finding My Blogging Passion:

Instead, I put my nose to the grindstone and got busy running and operating my business, learning the many ins and outs of opening a brand new start-up while also starting a local marketing co-op.  My husband, Tom, was right alongside me and he made himself become somewhat of a self-taught expert in various social media and web page design for our SEO trafficking. 

And still no Bonnie blogging.

Last year at this time, when it was our one year anniversary of our doors opening, I thought I’d be inspired. I set off to a nearby coffee shop, computer in tow, ideas in mind…and nothing. Still no passion.  Don’t get me wrong, I had tons of passion for our business, just not to tackle that darn blog.


In looking back, I honestly think I just wasn’t ready. I wasn’t able to sit and write about starting a business because I was too busy starting the business. I hadn’t had adequate experience. Frankly, there just wasn’t enough to write about back then.  I hadn’t learned enough yet about owning a business.  I hadn’t marketed enough or networked enough or sold enough or bought enough or said “no thanks” to enough salespeople or written enough press releases or hosted enough events or hired enough good employees or fired enough bad help or seen enough treasures or turned away enough junk or decorated and cleaned enough or been in financial fear long enough or spent enough money or made enough money or been proud of starting something from nothing for long enough. There simply wasn’t enough for me to be inspired to blog.

 Enough already! 

I kept telling Tom it would just be a blog about blah-blah-blah-blah- BLAH. We even nicknamed it, “Bonnie’s blah-blah-blog”.   “What would be my point, my focus? How will I sit and write about something that has no clarity to me? I need a theme, a purpose, something…”  I would beg him to guide me.  He, of course couldn’t. Not because he’s not supportive (he’s my number one fan!), but because while “they” were right (I had to have a passion), “they” were also wrong (I needed time to discover my true passions of running our business).  

To further play on Shakespeare's Hamlet, it is advised, "To thine ownself be true", and I think I was uninspired because for these last years my truths were somewhat masked by just being plain busy. I feel much more ready now. Truthfully said, I have found enough passion to blog about! 

Don’t get me wrong, as I write this there are still more questions than answers.  Hesitation abounds!  Walking out the door this time with computer in tow, heading to that same coffee shop, I asked my husband if he had one piece of advice to motivate me.  Would he somehow miraculously say the right thing to help me write the right things?  Nope, he only said, “Just start writing. Begin,Bonnie.” (He later texted me, and I'm not making this up: 'Just be yourself'.)

He was so right.  We have to take baby steps. No one’s gonna knock on your door and give you, in my case, a written blog. Ya have to get up off of the couch and begin.

Get Off Your Butt and Blog:

That reminds of when years ago I lived as a campground host for a summer in New Mexico and there was this place called Tinkertown just down the road. It was a museum full of intricate carvings and miniatures and collections of things from all over put together in this self-made town-esque like place. It was amazing. It was one man’s lifetime effort of, well, tinkering and creating (check it out: www.facebook.com/Tinkertown). I can’t remember the exact wording of a sign I liked there but it said something like “while you were watching TV, I was making all of this”.  Every time I visited, I thought WOW, imagine what I could do if I stopped watching TV! This genius creator’s message was loud and clear. Things are created by doing, not by thinking about doing or by wishing or hoping or wondering or lining up all the ducks and going to get more ducks only to wonder if you have enough ducks lined up…no.  Ultimately, the only way things get accomplished is by getting off the couch, turning off that TV, and doing. It’s how we started our business: yes, with duck aligning, and yet we learned the MOST by marking on our calendars an opening day and then doing all the things it took to do just that. Baby steps until, boom, we were open. We were a store, a business, a LLC!

Miles of baby steps later, I look around the store and am truly proud of what we have accomplished.  I’ve learned so much from so many, and that’s what has most inspired me most!  I want to share those things I’ve ‘found’ along the way in opening Find of the Day.  Sometimes, sure, it will be actual things (you won’t believe some treasures that have come through our store door!), other times it will be ideas or tidbits I’ve found useful in owning and running a business. Most times I hope to share the stories of the people I meet whom I have found to be the most valuable riches of all!

Always, I hope it can become a place for you to find your own treasures as well, whether it be an actual dialogue about items or some conversation about running a business. I'd love to chat about the importance of shopping local and buying secondhand, and will enjoy hearing your secrets to redoing and re-purposing furniture! Or maybe we just get giddy about our love of thrifting! So many possibilities...

My driving passion for this blog?

Finding my way at Find of the Day.