Saturday, April 22, 2006

creating again


i have been feeling crappy lately. i know that it is b/c i am getting close to the end of my pregnancy but the frequent urges to nap cuts into my running and then when i don't run i feel glum and i nap and the cycle continues. i know that my baby is needing all my energy so he can "plump" up in the next couple of weeks so i guess he can have my energy - LOL! i did manage to do a LO today. wow, i looked so tiny only 1 month ago! my belly is much bigger now! it almost feels like i can't expand anymore! i am getting fat in places i didn't know i had! it's all good. i know in a couple of months, i can get back into running and getting back into shape again. no hurry.

my sister and i were discussing the SBing industry the other day and how there is a fine balance of relationships that help you (and that you help) versus the business aspect of things. i am much more the relationship part of the business and deb tends to go more for the blood / guts of business. that isn't to say that we don't switch roles sometimes but that is what makes it work for us. one thing that we have noticed in this business (that is different from other industries) is that people are very cautious to offering constructive criticism when we ask for it. we aren't used to that. honestly for us, if we are asking for constructive criticism, don't tell us you love all of our stuff - tell us what you really love and really what we can improve on. it is so hard to judge yourself objectively.

i will admit though there is a good way and a bad way to offer constructive criticism. i can think of an instance from about 2 weeks ago - 2 customers asked us to change our invoice to include certain information - one sent an email THAT WAS WRITTEN IN ALL CAPS WITH LOTS OF EXCLAMATION POINTS that basically signalled SCREAMING to me. and honestly, that is a put off. there is a whole art to it. another customer called me the next day with the exact same change request but they said "hey here is a way that i thought ya'll could make your invoice better" - both delivering the same message but guess which one actually made the positive impact? we did make the change, BTW.

we know that we have many things to change to improve and Deb and I are working on that. it honestly is very difficult make the change from a tiny company to a mid-sized one in a period of 2+ years. we expect this year we will be more than a couple times bigger than we were last year. we struggle to manage that growth - here is a good way to sort of explain how we are trying to manage that growth:

you know when (at least in the US) when they are starting to expand a 2 lane road into a 4 lane road - it seems to take forever and it seems to be a bit late b/c by the time they have finished the 4 lane road, it really needs to be an 8 laner? that is where we are at now. but in my mind that is good - we aren't planning our expansion from a 2 lane company to an 8 lane company until we start to feel the growing pains of being a 4 lane company. it is so easy to just say let's make the jump from a 2 lane to an 8 lane but what if your business plan is bad and the market just can't support you being an 8 lane company and you can't financially support it? it is better to plan the growth and also feel the growing pains but also to be receptive to making changes to make it better.

it isn't easy at the end of the day b/c there are only 2 of us making some major decisions for the future of the company (our hubbies do offer input when asked - in fact, my DH might actually see a product this summer he brainstormed up a couple of weeks ago!) but we love it...

5 Comments:

At 4/24/2006 01:50:00 AM, Blogger lee woodside said...

Caroline you guys have come so far in such a short amount of time. Everyone adores your company and your product. To think it was only 2 years ago that I had the pleasure of meeting you all and sitting next to you at the 2peas dinner. Congrats on coming so far.

 
At 4/24/2006 07:27:00 AM, Blogger Shirley said...

Love the LO - you look beautiful!

Congratulations on the growth and we can't wait to see what you guys come up with next!!!!

 
At 4/24/2006 03:14:00 PM, Anonymous Michelle said...

Caroline, I just wanted to pass on a recent experience I had with Jessica at MR. If anyone should be rewarded for service excellence, it is Jessica. I have been provided with the most excellent service from the word go and she has gone the extra mile for me. It is service like this, that will make me want to buy more from MR. You are still a relatively new company but what you have achieved is wonderful. You will go much further. And if the time came for me to provide you with constructive criticism, I will make sure it is done in a way which will push you further ahead. So all the way from South Africa - well done to you, Deborah and all at MR.

 
At 4/25/2006 12:23:00 PM, Blogger Heather said...

caroline, I couldn't be prouder to be associated with any other company. MR has always been a positive and great company to work with. I'm so excited for you and Deb as you travel the upcoming paths of both your personal and professional lives.

You're ADORABLE pregnant! LOVE the layout!

 
At 5/03/2006 09:09:00 PM, Anonymous Melissa said...

MR is one of the best companies around. Both you and Deb are so cool (and David squared) and I am so glad that I can call you a friend. Of course, I am a bit addicted to your chipboard right now... but that is all good.
I am scared to see what your David came up with....

 

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