Thursday, March 10, 2011

Bringin' Home the Bacon

I asked Asher what I did for work the other day. He answered that I write emails and talk on the phone. Yep, that about covers it.

Me and another associate director launched an after-school program to piggy back our popular summer program. We have created it and promoted it with little interference from the owners. It is like our own little start-up (without the risk, but without the upside as well). We launched robotics and filmmaking classes this fall and winter with plans for more offerings next fall.

Do you remember the TV commercial that was popular during the late 1990's Internet bubble? The setting is an Internet startup and all of the young employees are gathered around, anxiously waiting for their first orders to come in. And then the orders start, and just keep coming. The employees get increasingly wide-eyed and finally someone says, "Now what?"

That has been my life over the last few months. We had a pretty good idea that there was a demand for our programs in the schools. However, we could not have predicted that so many schools would be banging down our door to get these classes.

The learning curve has been so steep, some days I walk into my office and actually see a hill leading to my desk. It is never ending....and along with some success.....I have had more than a few debacles.

These are the lessons I have learned so far......

1. Sometimes problems do go away when you ignore them. (I tended to micromanage the project at first.....but quickly learned it is usually better to let people who are directly dealing with the problem solve it).

2. I can be a pretty big bad ass when I need to be. (My MBA profs often accused me of being too soft. However, the employee that I fired last week might have a different opinion of me. Maybe I am overcompensating....)

3. Starting a small business requires carrying a lot of stuff around in your car. (Asher LOVES when I bring home robots. Luckily nothing in my car or my house has been broken or otherwise damaged).

4. People who don't have a set work schedule tend to work more than those that do. (At least that has been my experience). In the summers, I work a basic 9-5 schedule as a director in the summer program and it is so nice to leave work at work and enjoy my evenings with the kiddos (and Ed, when he is not working). As much as I love this project, it has a schedule of its own....and I find myself working all days and hours to keep pace.

5. Never assume anything, always double-check. (It took a couple of debacles to figure that one out).

There really isn't a job as good as working for yourself. I learned this lesson early in my life as I watched my dad grow his business. And even though I do not own it, I have been given so much autonomy with this start-up that I sometimes have to remind myself that it's not mine in the end. I do see the day I have my own business, but am realistic even to know that it won't happen until the kids are much older.

1 comment:

Beth said...

Jen, this is so cool. I love your school program. I'm sure there's a huge demand. How nice to see that so many want a part of something that you believed in, and worked hard for.

And it's awesome you are running your own business. I have been watching my boss run her own for the last year and it's really interesting. It's just her, me, and another teacher and another business manager, so I've been able to help w/ a lot of it, and watch her figure things out first hand. It takes a lot of strength to go out there on your own like that. Very cool.