Fortunately for me this is no longer the case, but that’s exactly how it felt for many years when I was running my family business.
I seemed to be constantly firefighting problems, and just when I felt I could start to relax a little, and actually enjoy the sense of freedom I got from running my own business, another problem came along and drew my attention.
My daughter took over the day to day reins nearly three years ago now and I’ve allowed myself some time to analyse just exactly why I felt this way for so long.
Obviously there is never just one reason why we feel the way we do. Human beings are complicated creatures with a multitude of external inputs jostling for space in our minds, but a predominant thought has been recurring.
I simply didn’t take the time out to properly think things through! It wasn’t events that kept side tracking me, it was how I perceived those events and how I reacted to them.
This seems so obvious now, and many of you reading this may think it obvious too, but at the time my ‘nose was so close to the grindstone’ that ‘I couldn’t see the wood for the trees’ (enough with the cliché’s, ed!).
I thought the answer to most of my daily problems was action, sometimes any action, as long as I was engaged in some kind of action, I was doing something worthwhile.
Of course the reality is that any kind of action sometimes brings a fruitful and productive outcome, but often it turns us into busy fools!
During the early stages of a business, a great deal of entrepreneurs are simply not equipped to run a business. They have a great idea, and they do some things really well, but nobody can be good at everything straight away.
I have a very good friend who runs an entrepreneur course, but I’m not convinced you can truly teach people how to be an entrepreneur.
Students can learn the theory and get inspirational talks from business men & women who’ve set up businesses, but until you’re grappling with cash flow, the demands of HMRC and intransigent bank managers, you’re never going to appreciate the nuances and sheer frustration of life as an small business owner.
Experience teaches you that ‘Success is never final and failure isn’t usually fatal’ (W Churchill). However that experience takes time and is often hard won. I believe you can shorten this process by following a couple of steps.
I would recommend the new business owner finds a business coach. If you can’t afford one, then try to find a mentor. There are organisations out there now who match mentors and business people at no cost, try your local growth hub.
Secondly, even if you have a coach or a mentor, talk to as many people who’ve been there already as possible. Most people are only too happy to impart their knowledge and even help if asked.
Thirdly, make a half day for yourself every month to reflect on what’s happening in your business and how you’d like the next month to progress. Use this time to analyse yourself, be constructively critical, examine where your knowledge gaps are, (you will have some!) then seek out cost effective courses to plug those gaps.
For instance, some SME owners will struggle with Strategy, i.e. designing a plan for your business moving forward, or financial instruments, such as Profit & Loss accounts, balance sheets, break even points and cash flow projections, others will need help dealing with HR issues, or Sales & Marketing, there should be local, short, cost effective courses available, if you don’t find the right one immediately, don’t give up, try online.
Of course business life bowls you a googly occasionally, it’s how you deal with it that’s important. Running a business can be an adrenaline fuelled roller coaster, so at least we should allow ourselves the opportunity to enjoy it!