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Real Life Entrepreneurship

Real Life Entrepreneurship

Hello and good day!

The cutie pie in the photo above is my youngest son, Daniel.

He's a five-year-old firecracker, a fighter, an athlete, and a sensitive little sugar plum.

I'm a big fan of his.

I took this picture last Friday night.

His mother was in the shop serving customers and I was out front keeping an eye on the kids and greeting visitors as they walked in.

We kept thinking it was time to leave, but once my wife gets going with customers it might be a while.

I am in no position to be judgmental, because it goes the exact same way with me.

Talking to customers, serving them, and helping them find the perfect product is too much fun.

You get swept up in it.

Time slipped away from us, and we didn't end up leaving until much later than we planned.

Those are the good times as an entrepreneur and a member of a family business.

When customers and the team are enjoying themselves and everybody is upbeat and happy, and there aren't any problems to solve, life can be so beautiful.

But there are challenging times too, and you don't get to enjoy the good times without enduring some amount of hardship.

I had a good day yesterday.

I crossed everything off of my to do list and I was heading home at a reasonable hour.

It was still light out on account of the time change, and we had warm weather to go along with clear blue skies.

"What will I do with this lovely Spring evening?" I asked myself.

"Whatever I dang well please," I answered in my mind, smiling the whole time.

Maybe I'd get into a little gardening with the misses.

Or maybe I'd chase the kids around or watch them jump on their trampoline.

Or perhaps, joy of all joys, I could dip into the book that I am reading, Ben Franklin's autobiography, and doze on the couch.

I don't recall when exactly dozing on the couch became so appealing to me.

But those are the facts of life.

Just as I was climbing into my car, at 5:30pm, my phone rang.

It was my dad.

I answered.

"We've got problems. Have you talked to Brian?" he asked.

''No. He isn't here," I said.

Just then, my brother Brian pulled up in his car.

"Should I ask Brian directly about the problems? He just got here," I said.

"Yes. Ask him and then call me back."

I talked to Brian.

Long story short, we are seeing something out in the District of Huarango that we've never seen before.

Because of historic worldwide cacao shortages, buyers are scouring the countryside for cacao, and they are bidding up prices on us every single day.

In 16 years, we've never seen any new cacao buyers out in the District of Huarango.

It is the most off the beaten path place in the world.

These days, though, it is flooded with bean buyers..

We're having a very hard time buying enough cacao because buyers are camped out and waving money in people's faces 24/7.

The saddest part is that all of these new buyers are industrial cacao buyers.

We remain the only buyer and processer of fine flavored cacao out in campo.

A lot of poorly processed pure Nacional cacao is going into crap chocolate this year.

We don't feel right asking poverty-stricken cacao farmers to pass up on the easiest money of their lifetimes.

If buyers are willing to pay premium prices for unripe and unfermented cacao that has been thrown on the ground for 5 days to dry, what can we do?

We take consolation in the knowledge that every bubble bursts.

One year of heavy rains in West Africa will send prices plummeting.

And when all of the interlopers flee, we'll still be out there, ready to put a floor under the market and steward things back into a stable state.

I sat in my car and had a 30-minute strategy meeting with my dad.

The blue sky had darkened a bit.

We wrapped up and just as I put my key into the ignition, my phone rang again.

It was my wife.

Two problems.

Our stove in the kitchen broke down.

That's the stove that we use to cook caramel for our most popular confection, our sea salt caramel turtles.

We really can't go a day without a stove.

Even more grave, our shipment of peanut butter didn't arrive.

We've been promoting our dark chocolate peanut butter lately and we've sold a lot.

It is an excellent product that I eat with great frequency.

I alternate between our dark chocolate almond butter and our dark chocolate peanut butter.

Both products are very good because we make them with much better ingredients than you see in other chocolate nut butters.

We don't add any oils or preservatives and we don't load them down with sugar.

We have hundreds of orders of dark chocolate peanut butter queued up and missing our shipment felt pretty scary.

Thankfully, we have 16 years of practice staying calm in crisis mode.

We've had facilities burn to the ground in the middle of a cacao harvest.

We've slept in abandoned houses with rats and roaches in the jungle.

We're good at acting cool and keeping a steady hand even when our hearts are beating out of our chests.

Want to know what real life family business entrepreneurship looks like?

It looks like a married couple with their three young sons in a minivan driving around all night looking to buy an emergency stove and a crapload of organic, unsalted, creamy peanut butter, made by a company we could research and feel good about, and whose products we could buy retail for a fair price, and from a store that had sufficient inventory back in the storage area.

Buying a stove was the easy part.

It took us half a dozen trips before we came upon a health food store with a lot of good peanut butter that they were willing to sell for a fair price.

As an aside, we looked at other chocolate peanut butters on the shelves while we were out and about.

They really do have worse ingredients.

We swung by the kitchen on the way home and dropped off the booty for the production team so that they will have what they need in the morning.

The sky was black when we finally made it home.

The clear blue sky had turned into a starry night lit up by a bright white moon.

We stood in our driveway and looked up at the sky.

"There's Orion's belt!" said our oldest boy.

"Look, the big dipper!" said our middle son.

At least we got a little quality time before the day was done.

My wife and I tried to watch part of a movie, but I quickly fell asleep on the couch.

I got to do a little dozing after all.

Here is the point that I want to make before signing off.

Life is never smooth sailing.

There are always a ton of problems and obstacles to figure out.

Just when things look great, you can be sure that something is about to come along and ruin your good time.

The best way to be prepared for this inevitability is to accept reality on its own terms.

When the shipment of peanut butter doesn't show up or the stove breaks down, the correct response isn't, "aw man!"

The correct response is, "of course".

And then you do what you have to do.

Thank you so much for your time today.

I hope that you have a truly blessed day!


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