The Entrepreneurial Spirit

Posted by Anne Yorks on Friday, October 29, 2010

“Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes, and having fun.” - Mary Lou Cook

On the third day of my recent Halloween cookie project, I had already put in a serious amount of hours and was still feeling overwhelmed. I wondered if I took on more than I could handle. I questioned if it was realistic to finish the project. Topher (my husband) was working late that night, and my daughter was in bed. I was alone and I was letting my mind race through all the worst possible scenarios. I decided this was going to be it. Once I was finished with these orders, I was done. Putting my rolling pin on the hook for good. No more cookies. I think some might call this extreme anxiety or panic, or just plain self-sabotage.

That night, I finished my orders. Cleaned up. And went to bed feeling lower than I had felt in a long time. Regardless, I knew I had made a commitment, so I still set my alarm for o'dark thirty to get up early and continue to work before my daughter woke. I said short prayer asking God to give me peace and to show me what to do next.

After only a few short hours of sleep, I woke-up the next morning feeling refreshed and ready to take on the day. Something had changed. Something good. I didn't want to give up or quit. That morning, I couldn't stop thinking about the movie Goonies and Chester Copperpot. Remember the scene when they find the bones of Chester Copperpot, the famous explorer? I think on that 3rd day I found Chester Copperpot. I got scared. I wanted to turn back instead of moving forward to see what was at the end of the path. 

I'm not turning back. I'm not giving up. I love what I do, and I even though I reserve the right to have doubts now and then, I'm in this for the long haul. This is not a hobby. This is my career. My company. My future. I'm putting my heart into everything I do and I want to know where I can take this little cookie company. 

Yesterday, my final Halloween orders were delivered. I think I've earned a sleep-in morning!  : )

If you are reading this blog for the first time, or haven't been here in a while. I recently worked with a Penn State class called ENG 310-Entrepreneurial Leadership on a Halloween Cookie Project. You can read the details here. I will be announcing the winning team on Monday. Most of the teams did an outstanding job; and everyone had a shining moment throughout the project. But there can only be one winner.

As the project is wrapping up, I have been reflecting on the the experience and my role as an entrepreneur (although, usually I just think of myself as a baker). Since the process of making and decorating my cookies is lengthy, I had a lot of time to think about starting my business and where I think things are going.

I think we all have a little Entrepreneurial Spirit in us. Haven't you ever dreamed of starting something, someday? I can still remember driving in the car with my family and deciding we were going to open up a Mexican themed miniature golf course called the 'Golf of Mexico'. We had the holes planned out and everything - including #18 the hole that would have a giant sombrero. We never did follow through on that idea. Could have been big. : )

I think so many entrepreneurs are dreamers. They cook up wild ideas and then are crazy enough to pursue it. Maybe the difference between a person with an idea and a person that puts the idea into action is that one momentarily puts aside the fear of failure and takes the leap. 

During the Halloween project, I had a very tight schedule. I'm not just a cookie maker after all. I'm a wife, mother, daughter, and friend. I have other obligations outside of filling orders. I try to balance everything, but at times it feels like there are 10 balls in the air and I still only have two hands to catch them. I don't say this because I want to complain, I say this because I think you can probably relate to this dilemma of wanting to move forward full-steam and feeling compelled to hold back to make time for the real priorities in life.

This Halloween project provided some unique challenges and now that it is over this is what I have learned:

1. Always make time for God, family, food and sleep. Without these, moving forward isn't really possible.

2. Asking for help is a good thing. I had three friends come in throughout the project to help me. I also relied on my mom and Topher to help get the work done. Maybe it's the Entrepreneur that has the idea, but I don't think it's possible to do things alone. At least for me it isn't. Plus, it's so much more fun to work with others.

3. Panicking wastes time and energy. (but a little panic can motivate me to keep it moving. Too much can be paralyzing.)

4. Trust your instincts and take a few risks. The results could have been failure, but taking a few risks with this project is when I really learned something new. Doing things the same way over and over is predictable and reliable, but never renders new results.

5. Failure is ok. It's only cookies. It's ok to make a mistake. I won't let the fear of failure hold me back. I'd rather follow my dream and fail, than never try at all. I mean it.

6. I want to love what I do. If that changes, than I think I need to get out of the kitchen. I love making cookies. 

So, I guess this was a little bit of rambling. 

Here are a few photos from the project. I wish I had more, but I didn't take too much time to stop and take pictures. I should also mention they were taken with my phone. So the quality isn't perfect. 

Outlining the Haunted House cookies...

Flooding the tombstones.

Letting everything dry before packing.

Time to start another collection. This is the Harvest cookies.

These are the Harvest cookies drying.

Wet pumpkins all in a row.

Adding each detail took some time. But these cookies are some of my favorites!

Packed and ready for the box!

A large corporate order of the Harvest cookies. YUMMY!

One shipment for the Post Office. The bakery box front and center was for the postal workers. A little thank you for their hard work!

In accordance with every great production...here are my credits and acknowledgments:

Thank you to the students of ENG - 310 Entrepreneurial Leadership

Thank you to Mark Gagnon, professor of ENG310

Thank you to Topher and my mom for all their hard work 

Thank you to Katie, Jeanne, Jess and my sweet friend Chris. You guys made this project fun!

Thank you to all the customers that ordered this Halloween. I appreciated the business!

I will be posting the winner of the contest on Monday! Have a sweet weekend!!