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Bode’s Life Lessons (From 16 Years in Business)

Kim Bode sitting by the fire at her up north cabin.

I started writing this blog last year, and then Imposter Syndrome took over and I killed it. So now it’s more like 17 years but who the hell is counting anyways? I’m just happy to do what I love every day, even if it feels like a bad relationship at times.

There is a lot I’ve learned, a lot I’ve f*cked up, and a lot more I’m going to – sorry in advance. Someone said to me just the other day, “Wow. 16 years. That’s a milestone a lot of small businesses don’t reach. It’s something to be proud of.”

Small business owners are an odd group, most of us are pretty humble and unforgiving of ourselves when we make a mistake. I nixed the 16-year celebration and opted to do brunch with my team, just felt right.

There are a few lessons I’ve learned over the years, usually in the most painful of ways.

If Everyone Likes You, You’re Doing it Wrong

This has, and continues to be the hardest reality for me to come to grips with. There are people that don’t like me, and some of it is warranted. I’ve made a lot of mistakes as we all do, part of being a business owner is admitting that and doing better.

Some are just not going to like you. I’m vocal, opinionated, blunt, and absolutely not afraid to stand up for what I believe in or call out injustice when I see it…and that pisses people off. They draw conclusions that I am callous, cold, mean, and hate children. Only one of those is true.

When you own a business, you have to make the best decisions for that business and those decisions can be absolutely brutal to make.

You’re going to have to get used to people not liking you. It’s part of the gig.

Surround Yourself With the Truthtellers

I don’t have friends that blow smoke up my ass. I have friends that tell me to get my head out of my ass. These are the truthtellers, the ones who won’t shy away from the hard conversations. They’ll give you guidance, hand you a glass of wine when you need it and sit with you when things seem unbearable.


I used to think this was a really bad thing, mostly cause my husband does it and it is definitely not healthy. It’s a coping mechanism he grew up with, for me it was learned. Used properly, it will allow you to take a step back and view something as impartially as possible. It is especially beneficial when making hard people decisions, cause you’ll beat the hell out of yourself over these. Refer to my first point.

Avoid the Numbness

You gotta feel shit, and at times you need to grieve. If you can let someone go and not feel anything, you’re f*cked. That shit should be hard and you should be seriously upset about it, these are human issues. People are involved and you’re irrevocably impacting their life. It doesn’t mean you’re making the wrong decision, it means you’re affecting another life. That’s serious.

People get the impression that these hard decisions are made in the spur of the moment; that couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s sleepless nights, a gazillion conversations, problem-solving, and finally acceptance. Don’t judge us business owners so harshly, you have no idea what we’ve gone through to arrive at some of the really hard decisions we make.


Ironically, this is the hardest for me. It’s hard to celebrate when you can’t get past the mistakes and failures. Stop being so hard on yourself, the best thing you can do is look forward. Accept the past, learn from it, take time to acknowledge, and if you can, celebrate the good stuff. Life is too short to live in pessimism.

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Hi, I'm Kim!
Writer of musings.

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