I thought writing a blog post about my team would be cliché. Like “oh, of course I have to mention them.” But for a couple weeks now I’ve been wanting to somehow incorporate the team into an article without it being some wonky write-up about how great the team is.

A few weeks ago I received a text from one of the guys on the “Conscious Cooking” team (that’s Just BE Kitchen code for the ‘back of house’ or kitchen staff). He said: “I’ve been meaning to thank you for all the hard work you’re doing.”

I never told him this, but frankly – I broke down crying. It was such a small, but yet such a big, text. My heart lept for how sweet it was.

See, being “at the top” really IS freaking lonely. (I’d like to use another F word but I’ll be good). Other owners know this – there’s no one to cheer you on, no one to complain to, no one to cry to. Sure, I guess if you have a “significant other” that may serve a purpose but even then I imagine that unless they are in it like you, they don’t really know.

But, the reason I say a “Team is Not Just a Team” is because this is the first time in my life I’ve realized just how much responsibility it is to have…a team. When I was in the Corporate world I took care of my team, I fought for raises and bonuses, I put team dinners on the company card to say thank you and I gave Friday afternoons off. But…this realistically wasn’t on “my own dime.” And, if the CEO I fought with on their bonus said no…then ultimately it was their decision and I just delivered the news.

Now…well…now these are people I have 100% responsibility for – I will NEVER forget my first payday. The feeling of being able to give money to these souls who CHOOSE to wake up and work for me. To deliver my vision. To wipe counters I paid for. To serve food I designed. To mop a floor I painted. To wash dishes I bought. To speak to vendors I selected. To show up on time.

The money they receive pays for food in their own homes, gas to work more, presents for their family, toothpaste, etc. I STILL can’t get over the immense responsibility…and “aweness” <if that’s a word> of it all.

This is why it’s not JUST a team. I like these people. Sure, we’ve had a few sour eggs and they are no longer with us, but I put a lot of effort personally into job adverts, interviewing & I think about these people late at night with the most random thoughts. How can I let XX know they are doing an amazing job without telling them that again? How do I keep xx focused without micro-managing? What would it take/where do I need to get to offer them healthcare? X is having some health issues – how can I best support them during this challenging period? The list goes on. Constantly thinking.

Because, I know, I couldn’t do this without them. I see their faces each day and in my head & heart I say a prayer of gratitude that they are there. I wish I could often do more for them. Pay them more. Give them gifts. Buy them the new car they need. Pay for gas. Buy their groceries with a gift card.

It’s a huge motivator. Yes, it would be great if I were getting paid too (I don’t draw a salary now). But to be able to help them meet their dreams and goals? That’s worth getting out of bed. That’s what pushes me to work till the wee hours finding ways to get sales through the door. To streamline this or that.

I have to serve them…and no doubt that will serve me.