Seriously, did you ever think you could have prepared for 2020? Thinking back to Thanksgiving of last year, when I received news that the first delivery of Pat's Granola had already sold out at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport in just three days! I was in Virginia in a store and was stunned--how could this be? A food business started by someone without formal training or restaurant experience decides to enter the crowded cereal/snack food market and boom!
“Just because something is already set in motion, doesn’t mean you can’t find a better solution for it. That’s the whole idea behind entrepreneurship: identifying a problem and finding a solution, even if that means building upon an already existing idea.” ~ Daymond John, CEO of FUBU and The Shark Group
I had been told that having just one product at the Airport would never fly. But it did--literally out the door, onto the runaway and into the hands and mouths of travelers who hustled in and out of Cleveland.
Also, launched two new flavors in early 2020 which by all accounts should have flopped after the nationwide stay at home order. Was I prepared to deal with a year like no other? Lewis Carroll wrote if you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there. I chose a lane on a road and plunged ahead—2020, be damned.
Running a small business often feels like your legs are dangling off a cliff. You walk confidently one moment and then tiptoe the next, especially as a startup. In spite of businesses closing left and right, at no time during 2020 did I want to throw in the towel. I'd spent the last 25+ years incubating an idea for this business and wasn't going to toss that away. Perhaps my pride simply wouldn't let me. In retrospect, it was a good decision to forge ahead and continue to do the work of building up my small business. Working with a group of savvy and experienced advisors, I was encouraged not to turn back. Glad I listened.
So when the National Association of Women Business Owners in collaboration with Girl Scouts of the USA invited me to contribute an article as part of their Circle Around www,circlearound.com series, I dug deep into my memory bank. My sister and I were members of a Girl Scout troop that met in the local Presbyterian church basement. We completed many projects in our Queens community and earned merit and service badges. Also, had the opportunity to go to Girl Scout Camp with our friends. I always remembered the Girl Scout motto of "being prepared" which has stuck with me since age 8.
Even as a young Mom, I felt like Monty Hall on the old game show Let's Make a Deal. I was the parent who always had an odd collection of stuff in her purse or in her car. Didn't matter what someone needed, I always seemed to have been prepared for the inevitable. My motto was "just in case" someone might need it, we'll just take it along. Served me well.
Prior to launching Pat’s Granola, I spent more than 45 years in corporate America, most recently as a people manager at a local hospice. Each position has contributed towards creating the building blocks for owning a business. Working in a variety of organizations (healthcare, financial services, technology, information services and not-for-profit) with all types of people has taught me nimbleness to adapt to a wide range of situations. I suppose all those times in my life when I questioned "whatever can I learn from doing or experiencing THIS" or was told that my experience wasn't "a good fit or relevant to be considered for a larger role", might have been the best preparation to 2020.
This Girl Scout is grateful for all the lessons learned over a lifetime. In a recent conversation with a friend, I realized that even the failures and disappointments I’ve experienced have in some way shaped my resiliency to face a future which no one could have predicted.
My sister shared a photo of her daughters Brownie vest as a reminder of the Girl Scout values--such as service, honesty, courage and respect. This moment in time is like no other for the life I've created out of those values.