Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Becoming an Owner

Last Spring when Dev hired me, I became the newest member of the Patty Pan team. I felt lucky to find a group of people who shared my values about food and work and who were so much fun to be around. In late Fall, when Dev proposed turning the business into an employee-owned cooperative, I felt honored that I was asked to be a part of it. I would be able to dedicate a percentage of my working hours each week toward owning shares in the business. No monetary investment up front. All sweat equity. It seemed too good to be true.

On January 1, 2013, when Patty Pan Grill officially became Patty Pan Grill Cooperative, it didn't seem right that there was no fanfare. No unveiling ceremony. No document in the mail. No ribbon cutting. It is a strange feeling to change from being the employee of a business to becoming a partial owner. Gradually, along with the excitement and starry-eyed dreams, I started to feel the weight of responsibility. Having spent most of my working life as an employee, I realized how different it was going to feel to be a part of owning and directing my place of employment - exciting, empowering, but scary.

The transition from sole proprietorship to a cooperative is bound to be interesting and challenging at times. We have all depended on Dev as our fearless leader and she has been incredibly fair, open and accessible. However, now we will have the opportunity and responsibility of weighing in on decisions. Voicing our opinions must not only reflect our own self-interest, but the health of the Cooperative as a whole. Thinking of the all the aspects of our business, from relationships with vendors to annual reports to rolling tamales is overwhelming. Fears creep in about my own inadequacies and what my new role will demand.

It is a big experiment. The only way I'm going to have enough courage to take the necessary steps is to make the transition real by celebrating it. If fanfare feels needed, I’m going to have to make it happen! Accordingly, later this month we will have a party for ourselves. Probably won’t be spending a lot of company funds on booze, though. When you start to be personally responsible for the bottom line, your perspective shifts a bit.

"i must become the action of my fate"  must become the action of my fate" --June Jordan

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