Editor’s Letter: November 2017
By Laura Aiken
The term “health and wellness” has been so overused it may as well have its own dictionary definition as one word. The entry might read: a phrase used to describe the most talked about shift in human attention since the advent of television.
Well, maybe that’s an exaggeration. But maybe not. Everybody’s into health and wellness now, or at least so it seems.
Bakers have sure heard a lot about it. Everything from sugar reduction to specialty baking and small indulgences fits the trend. Bakers have done their usual amazing job at rising to the occasion and addressing all of these consumer demands in one fashion or another.
But there might be one customer who has been overlooked: the baker.
On page 12, you’ll find an account of ex-bakery owner Amanda Lunan’s burnout and business loss. While hers is an extreme example, her point that many small business entrepreneurs do not take time for themselves has a resounding ring of truth to it. Her thoughts on the culture of the long work week and lack of vacation scream bang on.
When people envision those embarking on adventures to find out what they’re made of, images of triathletes and army boot camp come to mind. Not many picture the baker or pastry chef going through their own business boot camp. The intensity of starting a business can keep one running on adrenaline, coffee and a sheer fusion of terror and excitement for quite a few years. People that put years and years of sacrifice into a business are also finding out what they’re made of. This is partly why fear of failure is so predominant. Failure will feel as personal as being dumped – by your customers, the bank, your landlord, and the all-around world.
But a business isn’t a person, and can’t feel anything when it flounders. The entrepreneur is. All people need mental and physical health, whether you are running a successful or struggling business. I have heard countless stories of entrepreneurial burnout, and I praise Lunan for the decision to be vocal about her journey.
The challenge is twofold: many bakers serve the health and wellness trend to others before themselves, yet they share the same challenge their customers have in achieving their health and wellness goals, which is time. I’m not sure there is much point in saying one is busy these days. I don’t know too many people who aren’t. There is not enough time to exercise, eat right, sleep enough, etc., is a common refrain. The food industry is delivering solutions in the form of nutrition and convenience. The industry must also deliver themselves solutions in the form of some semblance of work-life balance. I can almost hear a snort as I write that because it’s a tough thing to consider when your work often is your life, with very blurry lines between the two. Work-life balance is subjective, but an important factor is whether your business has a role in your life that allows you to still have flourishing relationships with your spouse, children, friends, family and importantly yourself. If you can find your way there, your support system will be your buffer through the ups and down of business ownership.