Asking For Help
It is not easy to ask for help. This much we know. How we tackle this weakness and what we intend to do about it is what this week's blog post is all about.
Image via Gabriella of sighswoon
Elise: Dear Helping Hand,
This week, you will be leaving to return to Colorado College. For me, this spurs flashbacks of the past few months when you weren't here - when I stayed up until 4 am to complete orders, only squeezing in an half and a half nap before work. This is the extreme end of the spectrum, and it only happened once, but it reflects the number of times I have stayed up too late because I did not ask for help.
My friends have been incredibly generous time and time again with their offers to get their hands dirty in the Chica project, but I've only accepted help once. Just now, I wrote and deleted a text to a friend who has offered to help with matters of technology. Our website needs to be better optimized for mobile load time, and Google sent me a list of suggestions that I don't understand. I know he can help, but I really want to figure it out on my own. I really want to show myself and my imagined audience that I'm capable of accomplishing it all on my own.
However, the lesson here is that our website does need to be optimized for load time, and with new visitors reaching our website every day, sooner is better for this task. No one cares if I can solve the problem and complete the magnificent task of teaching myself to code websites, because that will take days or even weeks. I want to be known for a fast website, not for coding, so why do I care so much about not asking for help? This morning, I will draw a line. If I can't figure out how to implement what Google wants by the end of the hour, I will reach out. I can't let my pride get in the way of Chica succeeding.
While writing this, I took a break to recalculate the number of truffles we can produce in a shift, and how much profit is left after accounting for rent and COGS. I started with assuming we have only me and my free labor working. In this solo scenario, we can break even with a small amount of profit. Now, when I include paying a second person to be in the kitchen, even after their pay is cut, our profits double.
That is a scenario I can't ignore, and I'm excited to take advantage of it. However, this calculation is built off a number of assumptions, including how many boxes we will be selling each week. Knowing this, I will push myself to work alone for as long as possible until I max myself out at the number of orders I can fill. I'll lose a week of sleep, and then enough will finally be enough. Even then, asking for help will continue to be my weakness. Where do you feel yourself getting in the way?
Cassidy: To My Complementary Yet Opposing Force,
As your co-founder, I am meant to bring balance. We inspire each other, hold each other accountable, and point out simple solutions when one of us is lost or banging her head against the wall. There are times when I can see this relationship clearly–when I realized our kitchen process could be more efficient if we ripped the labels off the cans of coconut cream before opening them, for instance.
When you ask me where I feel myself getting in the way, however, my answer comes dangerously close to yours. My resistance to asking for help remains a fatal flaw. I am proud, and I am stubborn. I want things to be perfect, and when I don’t know how to manifest perfection I become paralyzed by the possibility that I am putting forth something that is not my best.
Pride–and the many forms that it takes–is only part of the equation, however. There is a dangerous rhetoric in my head, one that tells me that I am not working hard enough if I am not suffering. That my time is not my own, and if I rest I will fail. This, along with a reductive money consciousness, prevents me from asking for or hiring support, because I know how much I am willing to sacrifice. I can’t ask that sacrifice of an employee unless they are paid, and paid well.
But what happens when neither of us can ask for help? The optimistic answer is that we bootstrap. The pessimistic one is that we fail to reach our full potential. I see this as two extremes: we are either frugal and exhausted, or we are drawing from finances we don’t have to keep ahead of a demand we can’t predict. My question now is, how do I reframe my interpretation of this reality? It starts with considering a middle ground, where we can hire contract work when the orders demand it. I don’t want you to push yourself until you max out, because I need you for the long haul.
If I channel the ‘abundant’ manifestation of Angelina Jolie you have saved in our homepage on Notion, I ask myself “How can we make more money?” In this reality, the customers are the origin–this is how it should be and how it always has been. This helps me focus my energy, because I know who I must ask for help next: everyone I freaking know. Friends, acquaintances, mortal enemies, I don’t care. You’re getting a call. It’s time for you to buy Chica.
This week, I am leaving to go back to Colorado College. The birthplace of Chica, in some sense. The same place where we asked for funding so we could wash the chocolate off of our aprons and focus on building our brand. I understand now that we can seek growth and still have chocolate under our fingernails. It’s just all about keeping the balance.