I recently had the pleasure to sit down with Jolene Forrester, owner of JoRetro to talk about the changes in her business. The transcript is below:
Jolene: I'm Jolene Forrester; I'm the owner of JoRetro. It's a vintage shop in Havre De Grace, Maryland. And we specialize in items from the 50s through the 70s, useable things like housewares and clothing.
Nettie: Really fantastic stuff! You were a member of the Sappari Momentum Program. Tell us a little bit about what things were like when you signed up to participate?
Jolene: Well, I was in a much smaller shop at the time, and I had spent the last year working there full-time after being laid off from a full-time corporate job. And I felt like I was just not being productive, things were just sort of going along week after week and the same things were happening. But I felt like I wasn't growing the business, and I felt overwhelmed with some things and just I guess I was procrastinating on taking care of things.
So when I saw that you had put the video on about the group that you were starting, that just seemed interesting to me. And I thought that I could benefit from that. From years of having to write goals in the corporate world, then all of a sudden you're responsible and there's no one to be accountable for what you're doing.
Nettie: Absolutely. When you're the boss, right?
Nettie: There's no one above you that's saying, "Are you getting that done today?"
Nettie: Right now we're sitting in Jolene's new store. We're going to take a tour around in just a bit. But this wasn't really part of what you were imagining. What were you thinking you were working towards in the beginning?
Jolene: Well, it's kind of funny. I mean, ultimately my first item that I wanted to take care of was to renovate my home. And so I think if you start with what's the biggest issue in your life and then everything kind of goes from that point backwards to get to that goal. So my goal was I want to renovate my home but I have so much inventory, and why do I have so much inventory? And I'm just tired of lugging it back and forth to my small store.
My goal was to minimize the amount of storage that I had in my home, and to figure out a way to do that. Working with you I thought I should look for a new space. And at first started out with just a space for storage possibly near my existing shop, which solved part of my problem but not really all of it.
Nettie: Right, exactly. When you were really moving forward on that and you had a place picked out, you had measurements, we talked renegotiations.
Nettie: That was really going forward. And then things shifted, how did this happen? How did THIS become an option?
Jolene: Well, being in the program and everyday having you reach out in text message - what are you going to accomplish today, what are your goals today? It kept me focused on that goal. And as I investigated, "Okay, so this is an option, the space is available, it's reasonable rent, it's right near my space." And talking to you about how does that achieve the goal, the ultimate goal, and how does that benefit the business, I started to feel like it really was not ... It was a band-aid, it wasn't a real fix.
Nettie: Right, exactly.
Jolene: And I think a lot of times when you do something and it's not scary, it's probably not enough. You know what I mean?
Jolene: It was very comfortable, would've been easy, I had a floor plan, I knew what I needed to do to move in there. But it's still was going to take some work and some money. In the meantime the same property manager said, "I have another property I want you look at." And at first I kind of dismissed it, but I hadn't really investigated it. So you encouraged me to take a look and and just see.
Jolene: I mean, it does no harm to go look. And then that became more of a reality at that point.
Nettie: Nice, so something that wasn't even on the plate.
Nettie: And suddenly right here. You mentioned the daily check-ins, what did you find helpful about being in the Momentum Program?
Jolene: Well, we did do the goal setting, and bringing that back into a short-term goal instead of a year out, and focusing on small steps that makes it so it's not so scary. I think that that was really important.
Nettie: Good. I'm glad that was helpful to you. If there was something, if somebody's thinking about doing this, and maybe they're standing in front of that webpage that says, "Here's everything that might be possible for you." And they're just teetering on whether or not they should sign up, what would you say to them?
Jolene: I would say if you're afraid to make a drastic change in your life, and you think that nobody around you is really going to support you, this is the program for you. I mean, you know my husband was not supportive.
Jolene: And I even initially didn’t tell him I was moving. But ultimately I did and I might do get a buy in there. But I think sometimes your friends they're not maybe the best business associates. And actually whether you want to change something personal in your life or business-related I think having an outside person that can kind of guide you without that emotional feeling that a relative or a friend might have, who thinks, "I'm not sure if that's a safe thing to do."
Being part of the program you just refocus every day, and make a person accountable. Because you know you're going to get that text or you're going to get a phone call, and you're going to ask - what are you doing today to meet that goal? You're the one that sets the goal. You don't set the goal.
Nettie: No, I don't set the goal.
Nettie: I don't even have to know what you do.
Jolene: Right. But the encouragement on a daily basis is not something most people even get from a boss at a job.
Nettie: Right, that's true.
Jolene: Because you have some ultimate schedule of things that you take care of during week's time frame, and you may have this long-term goal for a quarter or the year. And I know I wanted to look long-term, but you have to step back and make those small steps or you never get to the long-term because it feels it's too overwhelming.
Nettie: It is. It's a big thing too. Even if you're setting out 90-day goals, 6-month goals you get in front of what you're specifically doing right now to achieve that and it can still be overwhelming.
Jolene: And I think some people might say, "Well, I can't afford to do it." But I honestly think that you probably can't afford not to.
Nettie: Yeah, be responsible.
Jolene: If you're stuck, if you really feel like - I'm not accomplishing things. Because all the little things that you're not doing are costing you money, I mean, in a lot of ways I wish I had moved sooner but I probably was ready, so the timing was right. And even when I did move I debated it - should I take both spaces or just one? And I mean, honestly it was like, "Well, I've already come this far. Let's just go outside my comfort zone a little bit more and just take both." And it made all the difference.
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Being an entrepreneur and business owner is hard! Once you have your business up and running it's not uncommon to hit a few snags: scalability, staff retention, launching growth projects, getting enough sleep!