Running a business is undoubtedly challenging, filled with ups and downs that can take you on an emotional rollercoaster. In my own journey as a business owner, I recently realised that I had fallen into a toxic relationship with my manufacturer. As someone passionate about creating handmade, natural fragrances, I decided to transform my passion into a legitimate business. Finding a manufacturer (which wasn't easy) who shared my values of sustainability and transparency seemed like a major milestone, but little did I know the struggles that lay ahead.
The Illusion of Legitimacy:
Upon finding a manufacturer, I felt a surge of excitement, believing that this partnership would bring legitimacy to my business and set it on the right track. However, right from the start, there were red flags waving in front of me. Communication was abysmal, causing severe delays in production. My emails went unanswered, forcing me to resort to phone calls just to get through to someone. Despite these warning signs, I clung to the manufacturer longer than I should have, hoping to salvage the time and money I had already invested.
Recognising Toxicity and Seeking Guidance:
Thankfully, God had a plan for me. Through a mentoring program, I was assigned a mentor who played a pivotal role in opening my eyes to the toxicity of the situation. During our initial call, I expressed my frustrations about the manufacturing process, which had hindered the growth of my business. My mentor advised me to put my foot down, highlighting the absurdity of the situation and the manufacturer's lack of respect for my time and business. He suggested developing a backup plan (Plan B) and comparing the pros and cons of both options.
Taking a Stand and Moving Forward:
Empowered by my mentor's guidance, I mustered the courage to confront my manufacturer. I shared my intentions to pursue Plan B, hoping it would motivate them to step up their game. To my disappointment, they displayed indifference and offered excuses instead of taking responsibility for their incompetence. Faced with no other option, I requested a refund and the return of the ingredients I had provided them for production. This whole ordeal had spanned five agonising months, during which I was unable to manufacture a product.
Learning from the Experience:
The weight of the situation brought me to tears as I reflected on the dreams I had envisioned for my business. However, I am grateful that I did not let my aspirations blind me to the reality of the situation. This experience has taught me invaluable lessons that I want to share with fellow entrepreneurs, especially those starting from scratch:
1. Acknowledge Red Flags: In the pursuit of success, don't allow your insecurity to overshadow red flags. Pay attention to warning signs and address them promptly.
2. Contracts and Protection: Protect yourself and your business by having solid contracts in place. These legal agreements can help safeguard your interests in case of disagreements or breaches.
3. Trust Your Gut: Trust your instincts and intuition. If something feels off, it probably is. Don't gaslight yourself or allow doubt to cloud your judgment.
4. Embrace Learning Opportunities: Entrepreneurship is a constant learning process. Embrace the lessons that come with setbacks and failures, as they contribute to your growth as an entrepreneur.
Although I find myself five months behind schedule and almost back to square one, I recognise the importance of the lessons learned in this process. Perhaps this setback is a sign to return to crafting the products by hand, infusing them with even more love and dedication. Unfortunately, this means you'll have to wait a little longer for Que Herba Fragrances. Rest assured, each product will be worth the wait, as it will carry the essence of passion, blood and tears. (No literally lol)