I’ve heard it said about Ironman triathlons and childbirth and lots of other (extremely) uncomfortable things: it hurts very badly while it’s happening, and it’s very, very hard, but somehow the power of the human brain makes you forget.
Apparently (I say apparently because I haven’t done either of these two things) you look back and all you see is crossing the finish line or your brand new baby – the hours of pain and struggle somehow faded away into a distant corner of memory.
There’s a parallel, I think (I hope) in this business of building a business. I find that my memories of the struggle in the early days of farmers markets and street fairs are fading even now into a blend of relaxed fun that I look back on now and think “simple times”.
Of course, this isn’t true. There was, for example, the time in late August 2011, when I sat sobbing on my friend Lily’s back stoop, on the phone with my dad, as I realized sadly and suddenly that I really had no idea what a “valuation” was, with only a matter of days left until we were to be filmed for national television to entertain the american public by arguing about – among other things – our valuation.
Shortly thereafter, there were the lonely months spent living in my parent’s house, back after just two short years of college liberation, with 10,000 jars of peanut butter in the garage, one equally homebound co-founder, our shared and borrowed car, and hours upon hours of time. We spent most of this time sampling our products in stores, staying until the very last potential customer (potential customer = human being) had pushed the very last grocery cart into a darkening parking lot, and disappeared.
Perhaps most dark of all were the months after getting served on the basis of our company name trademark – attempting to fight back, then conceding, then wrapping our minds around a company name change. Conflict abounding – coming to a head in frequent, contentious meetings at the local Starbucks. One barista saw Erika and I meeting with my parents there so much, often under such duress, that she thought we were the subject of some suburban parental intervention.
“Simple times” these were not. Each month of Wild Friends has been a miniature dramatic performance of ups and downs, each day ending with a hand to the forehead and a cry of “so much going on!”.
It is probably good that I don’t always remember all of this minute detail – that each day of struggle somehow feels fresh and new and I face them as if each stage prior was easier, just a warm-up for what is happening now. I really need all the optimism that I can get.
And yet the pain of forgetting on almost a daily basis that running a business is really hard, and remembering again the next day, over and over – that’s the part that can really suck.