As I sit back and watch workers tearing down warehouse shelving that was bought only a year ago, I think to myself “where did it go wrong?”
Only a year ago, we were a prospering company coming off the heels of a $3.5 million sales fiscal year with a ranking in the INC 5000 list as the 722nd fastest growing company in the U.S. Employees were busily working putting together that same shelving in a nice fresh 25,000 square foot warehouse. On Friday mornings, employees would walk into work with the fresh smell of pancakes. It was Flapjack Friday of course – and it allowed me to get to know my employees better as I slaved over the griddle. There were plans to build our company into a driving force on Amazon, eBay, Rakuten, and on Google. Life was good.
“Where did it go wrong?”
Flash forward to today, where the sound of metal hitting the concrete floor reminds me of much better times. The company I built from scratch almost nine years ago is shutting its doors. Everything is being sold off, and I’ll be “out of a job”. A job I created myself.
Many, many hard lessons have been learned over those nine years. Taking a business from nothing and building it to something that many employees called home takes a lot of hard work. There were MANY late nights and many weekends worked. Sometimes to the detriment of my family. At times, my wife had to almost slap me on the head as a reminder to not work so much.
Why the story? It gives you a glimpse into what my life was as a CEO of an e-commerce company that mainly sold wares on Amazon.com. I thought I was putting in those hours for a specific reason – to build my e-commerce company into an Internet Retailer 500 company. Now, I know better. I now believe the reason I put those long hours in wasn’t to build a large company. It was to gain the knowledge I needed to be able to make myself a better life.
During the past nine years, I’ve played nearly every role you can think of – purchaser, customer service manager, human resources, hiring manager, policy writer, warehouse designer, warehouse manager, accounting…etc. You get the idea. Out of all the things I did during this time, there are two things I enjoyed the most – doing research / trying new things out, and teaching people. I love watching the light bulb goes off when someone learns something new. I also get a high when I try something new out. Sometimes they bomb, and sometimes they skyrocket. My thinking is – at least I try it. Hopefully there will be more studs than duds. I would use the line “crash test dummy”, but Pat Flynn already has that tag line on lock down. I’ll have to think of something else.
Let’s start on this journey together, sharing those tough lessons learned in business.