Friday Favourites - Work From Home Edition

Welcome to the first instalment of James’ Friday Favourites!

And yes, it is Friday today.

I’m sure that I’m not the only one experiencing the weekdays blending together. The past few weeks have been tough with regular routines being completely thrown out of whack.

For me, I used to have a solid amount of structure to my week. I’d go to the same four gym classes every week. Hailey and I would have staff meetings on Tuesdays and Thursdays at the Hargrave Street Market. Saturday morning was time for George and me to go on an adventure, either to visit my Opa, go to Home Depot, or just hit up a cool coffee shop while Catherine went to the gym. Sunday was my day to experiment with recipes in the kitchen and meal prep for the week.

We’re working on finding new routines and activities to help give us that structure again. I try to close the computer at 5:30 every day and take George for a walk before dinner. Hailey and I have a virtual staff meeting three times per week to check in. Catherine and I have committed to a dingy basement workout at least three evening per week after George goes to bed.

And while this structure helps, like a lot of people we’re struggling with the unknown timeline of this and the questions it raises. How long is this going to last? When are we going to be able to meet our friends’ new babies? Are we going to be able to take George to his first baseball game this year?

We are working on finding ways to keep connected with our friends, so we decided to host a virtual dinner party tomorrow. I’m prepping BUMP kofta pita wraps and salad for 10 families and we’re all going to Skype, eat, and play some games together. We might not get to hold our friends’ newborns, but we can at least meet them virtually and check in to make sure the new parents are doing ok.

I’ll detail how the dinner goes and post some of the games for you to try with your friends and family if you want to do your own virtual dinner party next weekend.

For now, let’s get back to those Friday Favourites. I’ve got two of them for today.

First, it’s my Bluetooth speakers and headphones. I’ve always needed music to help me focus. When I started working from home six months ago when George was born a way to block out noise (both cute giggles and diaper change whining) became critical. Catherine bought me the AirPods Pro as a birthday present so I could take advantage of the noise cancelling and actually get some work done.

Second is the NPR podcast “How I Built This,” hosted by Guy Raz. It’s one of the things I regularly play on those headphones when I’m working in the kitchen or out for a walk with George.

I love hearing the founder stories of companies like Whole Foods, Ben & Jerry’s, Dave’s Killer Bread, Beyond Meat, Chicken Salad Chick, Milk Bar, Stacy’s Pita Chips, Boomchickapop, RXBar, and many other successful food companies. They also feature lots of other kinds of businesses, but I’m drawn to the food founder stories.

The stories often follow a similar track.

Founders have a passion for a particular kind of food that they can’t find in the grocery store so they make the first version in their own kitchens. Friends and family tell them how great the product is, so they jump in and try to make a business out of their idea.

Someone gives them a shot and puts them on the shelf at a local market, grocery store, or concession stand.

Problems ensue.

Whether it’s scaling, relationships with vendors falling apart, cashflow problems, regulatory challenges, floods, skeptical lenders or investors, or personal relationships, there are always major hurdles that get in the way of success.

But in every episode, internal perseverance and external support from the people who believed in them help the founders overcome the challenges and become successful after years of struggle.

I’d love to be on the show one day. But up until recently we didn’t actually have a major obstacle in our way to make our story interesting. Things had been pretty smooth sailing up until March. Then the little problem of a global pandemic happened - right in the middle of our product launch week.

The first day BUMP was on the shelf was the same day as peak toilet paper panic buying.

We were working on our food service launch locally and had set a goal of being in grocery stores in every province before the end of 2020. Right now, all of those expansion plans are on hold as retailers work to keep their stores clean, their staff safe, and the basic groceries in stock. Restaurants are in survival mode and working on new menu items with a new ingredient that their customers aren’t familiar with isn’t in the cards.

It’s frustrating and scary to have everything come to a halt, but having listened to so many other entrepreneurs overcome the major roadblocks they encountered gives me hope that we can do the same.

I know we’re going to make it through this, and so are you. I haven’t given up on our goal of having BUMP sold in every province before the end of the year, but I realize that we might have to alter our strategy to get there.

And I’m looking on the bright side of all of this, I’m going to have one hell of a great story to tell when I finally sit down across from Guy to record our How I Built This episode.

As always, thank you for the support.

- James Battershill

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