Jeanne and I were invited to present yesterday evening at Columbia's First Annual Grassroots Entrepreneurs event at the Missouri Innovation Center. The goal of the event was to allow several local companies (including PJP) to share a short history of their company and then explain several current key challenges and struggles with an audience of college students, members of the community, and other local entrepreneurs. The audience then had time to brainstorm and collaborate on possible solutions for each company. And if there is anything we have, it is key challenges and struggles. WORD. Because Jeanne and I both live in a pie vortex, it is difficult to remember that the vast majority of other entrepreneurs at our stage of growth also are plagued by the very same things. So, from the outset, we both thoroughly enjoyed listening to our co-presenters tell their stories and their challenges. The struggle may be real, but it always helps to hear other people confirm they are down and dirty in the same fight.
What became crystal clear to us both on our ride home last night was that the majority opinion of the audience was that we - Jeanne and I - are sort of getting in our own way. Sounds about right.
Seriously though, our growth is good, our goals are attainable, and we are meeting all of the benchmarks we've set for ourselves by our two-year anniversary. BUT. But the reality is that the next five years should focus on some VERY BIG GOALS. And when I think about those goals, I panic.
For example, we both would like to see two additional stores open in the next five years. I think we both see the St. Louis suburbs, perhaps Chesterfield, as a natural fit for our brand. (Also, they have a great outlet mall there, a Trader Joe's, and super good World Market as well. Priorities.) Not long ago, I found myself falling down the Internet rabbit hold of looking at available commercial space for lease in the Chesterfield area. Then I saw the rent prices, started to do the math, convinced myself we can't get the show together at PJP Buttonwood half the time so how would we ever pull it off 120 miles away at PJP Chesterfield?? GAHHHHHHHHHHH. Overthinking, party of one.
But my takeaway from last night's event is that each time I look at long-term goals, I envision them while keeping each aspect of our current set-up completely the same...meaning we do 87% of the baking and the dishwashing and the cleaning and the everything else you can possible think of. (Who vacuums every morning? We do.) That is how we consistently hold ourselves back though...by assuming that we must do everything ourselves all the time for it to be correct. At some point though, we will have to cave to the ever-growing chorus of people whispering in my ear to systemize our processes and create them well enough to allow other people to handle some aspects of our store while we build on World Pie Domination.
My throat just closed up a bit writing that. True story.