Entrepreneurship is a challenge. A challenge that the outside world often calls, “Living the dream.” This is not a cake walk. How do you handle changes and downturns? This has been on my mind as our business of 12 years is going through a transition. We’ve said goodbye to a big, long-term client. But instead of just replacing them with another big client, we’re changing our business model to attract more, smaller clients. Will it work? Years of experience at this makes us think so. And it’s guaranteed, right? Hmm, no! Guarantees do not exist in the grown-up world of living life by the seat of your entrepreneurial pants. You’re always working without a net. We knew that when we signed up for this. But so far, sweat equity coupled with mad skills make it seem like we at Slow Burn/CoupleCo lead a charmed existence.
We were just talking with another entrepreneur couple. They were discussing things like the crazy hours associated with opening a new location while keeping the staff happy at the current locations. We were all laughing about how people will say, “But when you travel to that location, it’s a write off!” Like that helps. Yes, it’s a write off—IF the IRS agrees. And either way, it’s not like it’s a free trip. Maybe if you’ve never worked for yourself, you don’t consider that someone still has to pay the bill. And that someone is, yes, you.
Recently, I was reading a social post by one of our favorite CoupleCo interviewees, Chopped Champion Christian Hayes of Dandelion Catering in Yarmouth, Maine. We’d interviewed him and his wife, Christine, for episodes #36 & #37. Just recently, they’ve added to their food-service empire by opening a restaurant called The Garrison. For perspective, Christian’s a rocker. He spent about a decade with a band described as an “eight-legged bombastic juggernaut of rock.” In this social post, he’s talking about entrepreneurism, and he hits it right between the eyes.
Christian writes: “The truth is, entrepreneurship is a lonely, isolating reality. People want to believe you’ve got the world by the balls and that you go home with a sense of accomplishment. The reality is sobering. There are so many people connected to me on social media that feel it every day as well. You think you know—until you’re in it—then you realize you had no idea. It’s been 11 years with Dandelion and now we’re doubling up with The Garrison. Don’t get me wrong. I’m living my fucking dream. But also, let’s not forget the gut wrenching, paralyzing churn of wondering if this is the week that breaks you. Financially, spiritually, mentally, physically. The demands are astronomical and ubiquitous from every direction. Yet, on hour 75, as I get out of my car in the parking lot and walk towards the kitchen, I’m always fucking happy. There’s a content feeling that washes over you. The apron goes on—and it’s time to work. I’m right where I belong. Cheers to all my people doing it every day.”
Reading that, I found myself nodding in understanding the challenges that no one sees. There are all kinds of messes you get to clean up while being a “trailblazer.” By the end of the missive, Christian had me charged up to put on my big-girl pants and dig back in. We chose this life for a reason. And for anyone who’s a CoupleCo, the loneliness of the entrepreneurial struggle is a bit less lonely. In our business, we are always Team Parker. If you chose this kind of life, you are part of a special breed. Yeah, we’re gamblers. But at least we’re gambling on ourselves. And no matter the odds, how do you not like taking that bet?
Hope that helps.
As you probably know, Mr. Parker and I travel the country in The Couple Coach, our C-class, Sprinter-chassis RV. But there are times when flying makes more sense. And being based in Park City, UT, we have a dozen years as devoted Delta fliers. And part of our American Express credit card plan is access to Delta’s SkyClub network. It’s a calm, comfortable respite from the mayhem on the other side of the door, especially during holiday travel.
We like the easy access to coffee, tea, soup, salad, snacks and adult beverages. But it feels like we never quite fit with the club crowd. We’re surrounded mainly by business travelers, and sometimes by couples on vacation. And we sound like neither group.
The vacationers are excited. They’re a) telling everyone around them about where they’re going, or b) stressed because they haven’t covered all the bases. Here now, an actual conversation:
“I thought you reserved the car.”
“You asked, ‘Did you reserve a car?’ I said, ‘No.’”
“But I thought you’d do it.”
“I thought you’d do it.”
We are not them. And as for exciting travel, even if we’re going somewhere new and different, we’re always fitting work into it. No conversation about shopping excursions for us. It’s more logistics of how we might grab a shower before an interview, or whether we’ll have time for a bite after. If we do have time, what would be an interesting local find? (Local food finds figure heavily in our travel discussions.)
The business travelers, on the other hand, are speaking in jargon that is often canned and robotic. Usually, it involves a cell phone with earbuds: “I’m feeling strong about our third-quarter numbers in the Western market, but I think we can incentivize Jim to roll out phase two a week sooner, and springboard off Davis’s momentum.” That’s not us either. We aren’t Jim or Davis. We don’t have a Jim or Davis. In our business, if we aren’t intrinsically incentivized to move things forward, nothing happens. We say things like:
“Babe, did you get that email out to the winery couple?”
“Did it this morning”
“I love you more.”
Bottom line, we never quite find our tribe in the SkyClub. It’s not necessarily a bad thing. We like Team Parker, party of two. We like our mix of work and togetherness. And if our tribe isn’t in the SkyClub, that’s fine. It’s right here. And you’re part of it.
Cheers to the CoupleCo. It’s hard for civilians to understand. They don’t know what they’re missing.
Best to you all,
Are Blaine & Honey Parker Relationship Experts?
Hardly. And does the world really need more of those? Instead, we are a couple who have worked together for over 20 years. We've learned a few things along the way. And now, we're traveling the nation interviewing other couples in business together. Join us for the ups, downs, ins, outs, laughs, tears (even though Honey believes Blaine has no tear ducts), and the inevitable, practical insights into being a better couple--in life, business and everything.