An Owner's Story
April 19, 2012. Wow, how quickly nine years passes by! I woke up that morning knowing that “today is THE day.” I chose April 19th because it was six months to the day that I had been laid off from my previous job. Six months seemed like a good milestone to recognize. Those were six HARD months of the emotional rollercoaster upon which my life would embark and ride for several years ahead.
Needless to say, I am not a fan of the real rollercoasters. Emotional rollercoasters aren’t exhilarating to me either. Both are survivable and one is quicker than the other. Growing up in Houston, Texas, we had Astroworld for day outings with friends, and Six Flags Over Texas up near Dallas just four hours away. I don’t mind heights so long as I’m not buckled into some uncomfortable metal car being hurtled nearly 100 miles per hour up and down steep pitches about to wretch my guts out.
Speaking of guts, getting laid off was the worst punch in the gut I’ve ever experienced. The company owner gave no rhyme or reason to me, just two weeks’ severance and a stoic, unsympathetic face. I had wanted to leave that company but didn’t have the courage to jump on my own at the time. Instead, I got kicked out. Over a beer (ok, two) with a friend, I cursed the company owner (and the horse he rode in on). Through months of tears, heartache, confusion, depression, anger, and fear of the future, getting laid off became a blessing in disguise.
It was a blessing that I could file for unemployment to carry me through the next year financially. I did my job search requirements and interviews to maintain that baseline check each week. Job listing after job listing, low-pay work, venues not of interest, location not ideal. At the core of it all, I was burnt out and not motivated to continue doing the same type of work I had done for 10 years. I had worked at big-name places and felt at the height of that career. It was time for a change. I was going to fulfill a dream years in the making of working for myself.
Small Business Entrepreneurship
What do I love to do? How can I help people? What problems need solving? These were the key questions I asked myself in the fall of 2011 that led me to my next career as a personal chef and business owner. During those six months of quasi-paid time off, I developed a concept and wrote a business plan (I called it my “Mise en Place”). I documented action steps for marketing, bought web domains, built a website, filed for a business license, registered a legal entity, researched, and effected a bazillion other details in between.
The clock ticked day by day during those six months like the measured, nerve-wracking inching of a rollercoaster up a 65-degree incline. The apex of Thursday, April 19th arrived. I had prepared as best I could and had made up my mind to uphold my self-imposed deadline. Now the momentum of a bazillion deliberate details would reveal its power. And my fate.
During a sunny, midday walk, I took lots of deep breaths and summoned my courage. Afterward, I entered my home office and opened the Mailchimp launch newsletter draft pre-loaded with 260 email addresses.
Chef Laura Taylor is the proud owner of Honest to Goodness whose team is grateful to have served hundreds of families over the last nine years.