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2017: Challenge yourself, set goals and be specific! 

It's New Year's Resolution time and that means it's time to write down your goals!

If you charge through life in a positive direction with a positive attitude, setting positive goals – good things will happen, organically. Most times that philosophy has worked really well for me, but now that I'm running my own company, I'm realizing how crucial it is to set specific goals. Not just goals, but specific goals – that are measurable and achievable.

A business plan? Never in my wildest dreams did I think my brain could muster such a thing. 

This past May I traveled down to visit a friend in Philadelphia. My new business idea was in its early embryonic stage, but I was excited to share my vision nonetheless. This man, who shall remain nameless, has always been one of my biggest fans and harshest critics. Our debates are always colorful, thoughtful, and contrapositive – each taking our own opposing, circuitous route to get to the same conclusion (usually). Me, a big bright ball of sunshine, and him, Darth Vader. We are wildly different and paradoxically equal. I've learned to appreciate his unrestrained pessimism, even seek it. No matter what, he'd always tell me the truth. To be successful, you need a good dose of healthy criticism. 

I'm a firm believer people come into our lives for a reason. Vader and I aren't meant to be together (we would absolutely kill each other), but we are meant to weave in and out of each other's lives, periodically, to make each other better. He bursts my happy bubble, criticizes my ideas and challenges me to think differently. I don't like it, but I value it. Personally, I'd much rather plug my ears singing, "LA LA LA, I can't hear you," on the top of my lungs, but I don't. Well maybe sometimes I do. We laugh. Sometimes I cry. We drink bourbon. We argue. 

The world is not always sunshine and rainbows, and he reminds me of that. When you have a brain like mine, having someone light your idea on fire can actually be helpful. Vader punches a whole right in the center of my rainbow and forces me to piece it back together using a different approach. He makes me think from all angles. It's unconventional. It's ugly. It's perfect. 

"Where's your business plan?" I didn't have to say a word as my blank stare said it all. "You don't have a business plan?" Appalled. Disappointed. Flummoxed. Angry. I understand it's proper and customary to create a business plan, before launching into a business, but that's not me and he should know that! How dare he be so mad at me for this! Our differences had finally reached an impasse. He was relentless. Brow beating me for two straight days. I could not create a successful company without a business plan, period, and I should know that. He refused to accept my insubordination. He was belittling, condescending and unwavering. He's no, I'm yes. He's black, I'm bright pink. He's unrealistic, I'm idealistic. No matter the battles, our foundation is built on deep respect and admiration for each other. We argue, but we listen. We are challenged, but we remain open. Not this time.  

To me, a business plan this early in the process, is far too premature. My ideas were still percolating and I would only limit myself by following a plan. My vision is a creative process that evolves over time, organically – similar to cracking the combination to a safe. I have one grand idea, then the wheels keep spinning and I quietly listen for the next wheel lock to click into place. That's when I move forward. So on and so forth until I unlock the magic safe. Then, and only then, is when I will write my business plan.  

I had worked tirelessly, day and night, around the clock, all summer and fall to create my business model. I was excited, proud, scared, vulnerable, and ready. In late September I landed an account with Camping World Stores nationwide and on Nov. 1 2016, went live. Shortly after DishRaggs went live, my vision expanded to include (my charitable brand extension). The wheel locks had all clicked into place. The safe was open.

December 23rd, my official business plan, pen to paper, was complete. Sure, this process my be ass backwards to some of you, but I'm not you. :) As someone who shutters at the idea of putting together numbers and projections this is a HUGE step for me. I understand why Vader wanted me to do it, as it was a tremendous learning experience, but I stand firm that waiting was the right step – for me. I hated and loved every second of the process. The "plan" will continuously evolve, but I have created a tangible foundation to build upon – and I have never felt more proud.   

I have an investor. Yes. I. Have. An. Investor. We will call him Yoda. I can hardly believe it myself. I feel so blessed that Yoda believes in me and is willing to help me take my business to the next level. I gave myself a deadline, December 23rd, 5 days to put my plan together. He didn't ask me for one, but I am certain, before we started talking real numbers, he expected me to produce one. And the size of those numbers would be contingent upon my "plan." My excited emails and overuse of exclamation points would only get me so far – I needed a serious, thoughtful and committable action plan. I gave myself a deadline, for me, not Yoda. Sure, I'll probably look back and laugh at my sophomoric first attempt, but it doesn't matter. I have never felt more proud. 

I left my comfort zone, challenged myself, set specific, tangible goals and I wrote them down. Now my vision is crisper and more attainable; it's funny how that happens. So take it from me, write down your goals, be specific, and have patience. Progress is never linear. 

Btw: I will email Vader a link to this post along with my business plan. I'll be sure to include a lot of exclamation points and smiley faces so he knows it's really me (because he's never going to believe it). Btw: Vader is also the "Breathe with you eyes" guy. Some people write songs about their relationships, I make DishRaggs. ;)  


Special thanks to RS for help with the financial side of my biz plan. :) 

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