More Than I Can Chew

Come along and read about Sarah's recent failures, and all she's learned along the way.


Sarah Skeates

6/29/20234 min read

You know that feeling when you’ve bitten off more than you can chew, but you’re at a fancy restaurant and you know you can’t spit out your food, so your only choices are to continue chewing or legitimately choke to death?

That’s kind of what being an entrepreneur is like, especially at the beginning of your journey. I still feel like I’m in the toddler-hood of my business – I’ve gained my footing, and can walk pretty steadily, but once I take off running, I usually trip and fall on my face about 14 steps in. It’s not pleasant, but I always learn how to balance a bit better the next time.

I’m going to tell you some painstaking moments in the last little while that made me want to pack my bags and head back to the corporate world where I’ll be safe and sound with a steady paycheck:

First failure: at the end of April, right before we left for Spain, I did a WHOLE BUNCH of work in the back end to get some events setup for the end of May and into June with the assumption that tickets would sell out, the events would fill up, and I’d be laughing with a glass of champagne in hand, toasting to success sitting at an expensive bar in Barcelona. We did go to the expensive bar(s) in Barcelona, and we laughed a hell of a lot, but I was not in Louis Vuitton heels, sipping Moet and Chandan from a crystal glass with nails done up, and $10,000 worth of gold scattered around my body (not that I’d do that anyways, but I digress). By the time I got home, I had sold approximately 2 tickets to almost all my events, and it was back to the drawing board.

I canceled the nutrition seminars and cooking classes because it was then that I realized I truly had bitten off more than I could chew and I had NO idea what I was doing. I had to refund the wonderful woman that purchased tickets to every single one of these (that hurt a hell of a lot), and tell her I was re-evaluating all my life choices (in a more professional tone).

Second failure coming up: at my first charcuterie workshop back from Spain, I had three people show up who I didn’t have on my registry. I never received emails from Square (my POS system) that I had three other participants who wanted to join in, so I had to turn them away. I literally have never been more mortified in my life. Yes, shit happens, and maybe it “wasn’t my fault,” but it doesn’t make it any less heartbreaking for both my business AND these women who had made plans for a special night out just so they could come and support me. Now, I’m not a techy by any means, but there were issues with missing DNS reports on my website (“Peter, I hear you’re having issues with your TPS reports?”), which were blocking me from receiving emails, and consequently e-transfers (so… like 40% of my business at the time?), which means as soon as it was fixed, the next morning I issued refunds to all three of them and offered a free tickets to my next workshop (they all said that was not necessary and they’d likely be buying tickets to another class instead). I felt awful (still do), but the show must go on.

Third failure of the month: I was catering an 80th birthday party, and was making Italian food. I did a bunch of appetizers, some entrees, a salad, etc. and it was all going swimmingly well, until it came time to make the cake. I made it, and I absolutely hated it. I’d never put my name on something I hated so much. So I told my client that I dropped it on my way to the car and instead I replaced it with two other cakes from Farmboy because I felt so terribly about it. I ALWAYS second guess myself and I am ALWAYS hard on myself, but this lovely woman gave me amazing feedback telling me that everybody loved the food, that I did an amazing job and she even came by the shop to give me an extra tip on top of the one she already gave me. (The world needs more people like her in it).

I ended up bringing that same cake to another party I had that night, and everybody told me the cake was amazing and delicious and looked beautiful and what the hell is wrong with you, Sarah? But it is what it is. You’re always your own worst critic, right?

Anyway, yet again, I bit off more than I could chew. And I learned that I don’t want to make cakes as part of my business (which gives me the opportunity to collaborate with someone in the area who actually does this as their job).

I’ve since taken all of these mistakes and failures and turned them into learning opportunities. Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve done a bunch of networking, and made progress working “ON” my business, not JUST “in” it (something I learned from an inspirational businesswoman at brunch), I’ve still bitten off a little more than I could chew, but I had my support team to help me out and make sure I stayed sane and on track. I opened up my business to the public – finally. I’m open 11-2 Tuesday to Friday, and I have big plans to expand my hours in the fall and eventually expand my business. With the help of my mom and aunts, I catered a beautiful wedding, putting together a 30-foot grazing table with some desserts that were WAY more manageable than a cake, not to mention incredibly delicious and beautiful… and within my realm of expertise.

Of course, I’m still finding my way, and trying to run a few more than just 14 paces before falling on my face. I’ve accepted that I’m likely to bite off more than I can chew again at some point, but I’ll continue to learn and to grow from my mistakes; taking smaller bites, and pretending I belong at the fancy restaurant until I actually do.