I’ve been wanting to grow culinary mushrooms at home and went on a major how-to video binge-watching spree on Youtube the other night. I was up until nearly midnight soaking in all the different methodologies and techniques like a sponge.
One account, in particular, called Funky Fungi was particularly captivating, not just because she was a badass Baltimore babe with tons of sass and humor, but because of the overstory her account told.
So, backing up, The Overstory is this captivating book that, rather than following a human protagonist, centers the narrative from the perspective of different trees while a series of generations of humans age and interact underneath them. You see this timeline from a zoomed-out perspective that’s really novel.
On this Youtube account, because I was looking at a few years of content from a singular perspective, I was able to take in a similar overarching narrative that stretched out over a period of three years. Her early videos are wonderful introductions to a homestead mushroom endeavor for beginners.
As I dug into the catalog of videos, her more recent ones started to tell a starkly different story from the beginner, garage grow videos from 3 years ago.
A year or so ago, there’s a video about her new 2,000 sq ft warehouse. WOW! What a leap. She’s rad so I was initially pretty psyched that she had taken her home hobby into something so massive. This lady was a boss babe so if she wants a mushroom empire, I’m about it.
Except…not long after that intro video to her massive warehouse, the videos tapered off. There was very little in that year span from Funky Fungi. What happened?
I hit this account at the perfect time to get the scoop because a few weeks ago she shared the full story of the downfall of Funky Fungi. All her free time in the pandemic finally inspired her to spill the beans.
I was gutted because this woman is a gem and I instantly wanted nothing but success for her as I watched her early videos. The takehome was that her leap into a major warehouse space had some side effects that ended up killing the dream
Instead of easily walking out to her home lab and propagation space at any time, she had to drive up the road a few exits to do her work. Fruiting mushrooms don’t take a holiday, so this is a major downside if you’d prefer not to be driving in a snowstorm or on holidays. And the scope of her space created issues with the county and other businesses in the warehouse’s which led to a (imho total bullshit) lawsuit.
Too big to fail? Nope. Big was the perfect size to fail. She sold her equipment with no hard feelings and took the loss like a champ, but the business had gotten far bigger than she had ever imagined and it was way more than she honestly wanted to manage. She learned that lesson on the back end of that mistake, but I want the rest of us to learn something from the downfall of Funky Fungi.
Where I’m getting at with this, and what I think was the fatal error for my Funky Fungi queen, was that there’s this obsession with growing and scaling and it seems like no one bothers to take a moment to pause and ask why they want or need to scale in the first place. Bigger is not always better, but it sure as heck is always bigger. More is more! More effort, more time, more effort…more risk.
What I don’t see enough of is people looking to right-size their business, rather than scale it to the biggest size possible. Is more effort for more money really worth sinking nights, weekends, or your overall sanity into a project?
Instead, what if you focused on creating a business that covered your costs and provided a comfortable existence and supported a healthy, sustainable lifestyle? You don’t have to be a stark minimalist to pull this off, although you may want to be mindful of your spending and what you truly need to be happy. And ok, you may not get that mansion in the Hollywood hills you had your eye on, but is all that floor space and vaulted ceilings truly going to make you happy?
I’m watching more and more people, in light of the given pandemic, start to realize what truly matters to them. If this is you, lean into it. Don’t forget when it gets easy again! Do you really want to spend 5 days a week in a fluorescent box or working nonstop so you can have a $7,000 fridge? Many are waking up to the fact that actually, no, that isn’t the kind of life you’re really after.
Now, if that fancy af fridge is what you want, cool. Go. For. It. Everyone is entitled to chase their own dreams and to set the bar for what a good life looks like to them but me, I’m with Mr. Money Mustache who teaches that when you really get down to it, your freedom and time to do what you want is far more valuable than all the widgets and shiny new cars of the world.
I’d rather right-size my work so it supports a life where I still have time to read books for hours straight, hang out with my pets, publish indie motorcycle magazines, and go hiking on a weekday afternoon just because. And I bet, because I’m here to make ambitious claims today, that if you looked really deeply at what you truly wanted…it’s not the next new thing from Target or LuluLemon, or a bigger TV…it’s to be happy, content, and secure.
If your biz isn’t quite sustainable yet, keep at it, you got this…and think long term sustainability when you make decisions for where to add and where to spend your time. If you’re looking to scale and grow…this is the time to look closely at what you’re doing and ask whether adding another zero to your bank account is as vital as living a life that satisfies and delights you.