Balancing Three Boys and a Business



Running a business and raising small children is a struggle most people can understand. ScrapMills may only be a side-job for us, but it is far from “part-time.” We both work full-time jobs outside the home so that leaves late nights and weekends to work on anything else.

Through the course of doing this I’d like to think we’ve learned a few things worth sharing. Here’s three:

It’s Not Easy

Of course operating your own business, regardless of the scale, can be tough. I’ve always felt that for makers it is especially difficult. Unlike retailers or wholesalers or independent consultants, everything you sell has to first be designed, built, assembled, or crafted, creating entire workloads that add hours to the process. Like all things, it becomes harder when you add small human beings that can’t care for themselves. You can’t cut wood and chicken nuggets at the same time.

It may sound obvious, but you have to accept that raising a family and building your business is not easy. Everyone who does it will tell you the same, no matter how good their Instagram page or Etsy shop looks. Know you’re doing your best and that’s all you can do.

It’s About Your Priorities

Getting orders out and delivered on time is important. Making sure your customers have a good experience and enjoy their interaction with you is a must.

But at the end of the day, your customers aren’t the ones you’ll be putting to bed each night. Your customers don’t need help with their spelling words or need a story read to them.

Silence that voice deep down that accuses you of not spending enough time with your children or your spouse. Don’t feel guilty about the work piled up in the other room.

Be honest at the beginning that orders take a little bit longer than you’d like, but you are working on getting that time down. If there’s a two month backlog, own it. There will always been another order, but there will only be 52 chances in a year for a Friday night slumber party in the living room floor. Decide what your priorities are and don’t apologize for them.

It’s Worth It

Growing your business and growing your family will take a toll on you. You’ll probably be tired  as soon as you wake up or stay up too late and question your choices along the way. But know that doing something you enjoy and providing a little extra income while you do it is great path to take.

The best part is that it really isn’t even about the money you’ll make. Sure it helps, but the most significant thing is that your children will see you working towards something. They’ll see that the right way to achieve success is through hard work and commitment. It’s late nights and weekends. It’s getting up early and staying up late.

It’s a value they’ll carry with them.

And that makes it all worth it.

Lincoln (almost four), Noah (four months), Sawyer (five)

Lincoln (at age three), Noah (at one month), Sawyer (at age four)

Community Over Competition


“There has never been a statue erected to honor a critic.” | Zig Ziglar

Wood Background

When we started this business a short time ago we learned very quickly that we aren’t the only ones in the game. We were just launching our message and already I felt drowned out by everyone else. Etsy, Shopify, and Instagram are for full of people who make hand-painted  reclaimed wood signs like us. And like everyone else who is insecure, I would size up the competition at every turn.

“Eww that’s ugly.”

“That looks like a third-grader did it.”

“I mean it looks nice, but they are charging way too much.”  

It was almost a little game to critique everyone’s work I saw. I know, it sounds awful, but what’s worse, it was fun. It made me laugh and made me feel better about my own work.

Here’s the thing though; It didn’t make my work any better. It didn’t get me any more sales or any more orders. It wasn’t constructive. When you don’t have a lot of spare time you realize anything that is not constructive can easily become destructive.

So I stopped.

Instead of looking at other people’s work with the critical eye of competition, I started looking at things through the welcoming lens of community.

I’d try to find something good in any work I saw and if I had a chance, I’d let the maker know I liked it.

Not only is it the right thing to do, it’s also is constructive. When you open yourself up to seeing other people’s work in a positive light you open yourself up to learn. You see new techniques, new setups, new ways to market products.

You also get more business. If you follow a business similar to your own, their followers will likely to do the same. They’ll see your work and explore your page. With increased traffic comes the higher likelihood of orders. It’s a win-win.

I still feel competition often breeds the best work, but the best place for it is with yourself. Compete against your own high standards. Compete against your own past works.

You have to decide to run the race like you are running against yourself and see everyone else as the crowd at the finish line.