I didn’t like group projects when I was in school. This is a surprise to exactly no one who knows me. I’m happy to be around a group of people. But working with people? Collaboratively? No, thank you. I can do this on my own.
But owning a small business has disabused me of many previously held beliefs about myself, including that I can handle all the things by my self. Oh, I may be able to technically accomplish all the tasks, tick all the boxes, on my own. But I’d be a burnt-out mess. And things would be all kinds of half-assed. And really, who needs that?
I believe in the inherent goodness of the Universe. And the Universe has, in all its benevolence, thrown a varied cast of characters my way who now work in the bookstore in some capacity. Of the five that work on a rotating basis, none of them have similar personalities. The only overlap they have is a love of books & bookstores.
This is fabulous for me, in the way that all growth experiences are wildly unsettling, but necessary. So necessary! And I know that once I work through my issues with letting go, having a vast array of employees will be what’s best for the store and for me. Because, once I’ve invited this many people in, I can’t control every little thing. There are too many variables. And I have to trust my intuition, that these are all people that customers will love and come to the store specifically to see (I would, by the way. I’d come in to chat with each of these folx about books, and life, and to see what they’re reading. They are really interesting people.)
Having a staff of more than one feels vulnerable. Because, yes the bookstore is a business, but I’m there so much it feels like my living room. I really live into the place. And I love that. But just like when someone stays with you for a week and they find out that you don’t always remember to pick your dirty laundry up off the bathroom floor or that you sometimes lose your shit when someone loads the dishwasher incorrectly… it feels vulnerable to let people see not only the things that work brilliantly at the store, but also the places where things could improve.
I need this kind of shake up, though. I thrive on a challenge. And having a larger staff means needing to be more organized, putting some systems and processes into place*, communicating needs, desires, and instructions clearly–instead of haphazardly from my phone as I’m trying to do six other things. More people means more input. Constructive criticism–which I have always loathed with every fiber of my being. And yet, here I am inviting it.
I know that there’s room for the store to grow. And I’m happy to make mood boards, vision boards, to dream and plan. But I need real input from folx who are in this with me, in order to course correct when things aren’t going as planned. I am actually seeking out input about what could be different, better, where there’s possibility and where we’re falling short.
I’m out here creating this group project, y’all.
*One of my employees is actually creating the systems & processes guidelines for new employees. Thank GOD for people who are good at that sort of thing. Because I am not it.