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I Left My Gift Box Business for a Month and Here's What Happened

FILED IN: Behind-the-Scenes

Posted By: Jamie Kutchman

After 10+ years of chronic neck pain and a pretty scary looking MRI, I knew I was facing spine surgery. I knew the recovery would be long. But I just didn't think I'd be going in to face it quite so soon. Picture this. I'm in the surgeon's office on a Thursday, got immediately approved for surgery, and after a sudden cancellation with another patient, he asked me right then and there to be ready for surgery on Tuesday. I was expecting a three month wait but instead, four days!!! That was four days notice to prep my business to leave it behind for an entire month. I had custom gift design projects in the works. I had ZERO blogs written for the weeks to come. I didn't even have our Instagram or Pinterest scheduled. My inbox hundreds from being empty. In retrospect, it was probably best that I had very little notice or I may have backed out.

Image: Lisa Ziesing of Abby Jiu Photography Image: Lisa Ziesing of Abby Jiu Photography

Happy to report that I've been back at work for three weeks now and have been reflecting on what I learned from this experience. Here goes...

Communication is Key

There were a few custom projects that I was scheduled to begin right before leaving for surgery. I emailed each client, explained to them exactly what was going on and reassured them that I would take care of their project immediately upon my return and that we would absolutely still be able to meet their deadline. By communicating all of the facts and laying out a timeline, everyone was 100% understanding, If I had gone out without letting them know, it would not have resulted in the same level of understanding. And rightfully so!

We Really DO Have Systems

As a small business that has grown from just me working out of my basement to a full service gifting studio with employees, it's sometimes hard to recognize the progression since I'm in it every day. I sometimes question whether or not we really have REAL business systems or if we are just hustling hard and getting lucky each time? Happy to report that I shouldn't question our operations. Each and every custom project and online order went out the door on time and looking beautiful. Without me. Proof to me that YES, we really DO have systems in place and they are working.

My Team Can Operate Without Me

While this might sound like a scary thought to some, the fact that my team really can operate without me is a beautiful thing. Right before I left they said "Don't worry. Go and get better. We have this!" and I believed them. My business is only as good as my team so I'm thrilled to know that they carried on without me and executed beautifully. Thanks ladies!!!

People Care

Being a business owner in the first several years can be isolating because you're working SO hard in some many different areas of the business and having to be good at almost everything. You often don't have the time to invest in friendships like prior to starting the business and even family can sometimes fall the wayside. (Not okay, but true!). I was blown away by the amount of love and support I received from not only close friends and family but also my extended circle of friends and acquaintances. It reminded me that people really DO care. It also inspired me to resist becoming isolated in my own business and reach out more to others just as they've done for me.

Image: Red October Photography Image: Red October Photography

Obviously, I never wanted to have this medical condition and the surgery that ultimately became necessary. But I did end up learning a lot about myself and my business in addition to feeling better health-wise. Now, if only I could take a month off for vacation instead! Maybe someday.

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