My Life is a Mess… Anyone Got a Mop?
I joined EO in September 2010, right as my chain of luxury pet boutiques and spas was growing throughout Alberta, Canada. When I joined, I didn’t really understand what I had signed up for. I had heard established members refer to EO as “a board of advisors” and “a support group.” Truth be told, I joined because I hated networking events, and as my business was growing, I felt less and less able to find people who understood the challenges I was having. That first year, as the only woman in my Forum, I became the unofficial social coordinator. I planned our retreat, kept a big smile on my face and downplayed my challenges. Why? Because I had just met these guys, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to bare my soul to them just yet.
All of that changed four months ago. A former partner’s settlement negotiations were pushing my company near bankruptcy, my franchisees were revolting against even the most minor operational changes and the positive press we were receiving from some upcoming awards was pushing me to my very edge. Inside, I felt like a fraud. On one hand, we were being named the sixth fastest-growing company in Alberta, but on the other we could barely afford to keep the lights on. As I was being quoted in magazines inspiring others to risk it all by diving head first into entrepreneurship, I felt like I was drowning. For the first time in my life, I couldn’t hide behind a big smile.
Our monthly Forum meeting was at the end of December—five days before Christmas—and I came prepared to present. The title of my presentation was, “My Life is a Mess … Anyone Got a Mop?” I knew I couldn’t tell the story without crying, so I brought a box of Kleenex and a typed-out presentation. I couldn’t even make it through the monthly updates without crying. By the time I read my presentation, I was halfway through that box of Kleenex and was into a full-on “ugly cry.” More than anything, I was scared; scared that the guys in that room would see me as a weak, emotional woman; scared that crumbling would mean I wasn’t strong enough to belong in this Forum; scared to face my own reality.
And then the oddest thing happened. All of those strong, tough guys sat there and listened—a little stunned, I think—and the experiences they shared helped me in a way I have a hard time expressing in words. They gave me that light at the end of my very dark tunnel. They shared how they, too, had hit rock bottom at some point along their entrepreneurial journey. I was no longer alone. I was no longer afraid to face the uphill battles in my business. It’s been just a few months since that meeting, but my life is already feeling like less of a mess. Instead of a mop, I discovered that my Forum is a cleaning crew of people who will pick me up off the floor when I fall.
Krista Castellarin is the fabulous founder and CEO of Fabulous Furballs. Fun fact: Krista relocated to Edmonton, Canada, from Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, to open her company. E-mail Krista at firstname.lastname@example.org.