Running a business can be rewarding but also tough (wow, what insight I hear you say), especially in these days of Trexit (geddit?) and general national and global uncertainty. Who knows what a ‘no deal Brexit’ looks like (certainly not this government) and the outcomes could be catastrophic for British business – or not. It’s difficult to tell.
We all run businesses for different reasons, but sometimes we forget to focus on the things that unite us as business owners. These can be a range of issues – HR, business development, long term planning, securing loans, best practice, sourcing strategic partners, what to eat for lunch to reduce the ever expanding waistline brought about by too many ‘I’ve made it through another day’ drinking sessions.
Why do we run our own businesses? We all get fired up at the outset, crack our mission statement, scream about how we are going to change the – sorry, our, world, but then it becomes a struggle, a labour of love – unless you’re one of those people who enjoys the cold sweats at 4am when you’ve forgotten to pay the PAYE.
Has your business drifted away from its original intention? How many times have you referred to your business plan? Have you even got one? And why do we spend time on clients, making them successful only to be cast aside like a cigarette butt flicked out of a moving car window. It’s easier to sack your agency than make people redundant, obviously, but what are you gaining? Cost savings? Well, in most cases no, it’s more expensive to employ. And do you get the expertise that you would with an agency? No, you don’t. So there. Rant over. For now.
You might be asking why is he so bitter? Well, I’m not…ok, I am, sometimes, but being a sole owner, there are times when you go through periods of self doubt and wonder if it’s all worth it. But then another day dawns and you’re all pumped up again after 4 double espressos and the world is your oyster, or clam, more like…at least until after lunch and the inevitable physical and mental ‘slump’. Then you’re just hoping to make it through another day until you can crack open a cold one.
People, associates, strangers, often ask ‘how’s it going’ at the start of a ‘business meeting’ and you invariable end up answering ‘yes, good…’ and then pick out a job from your mental filing cabinet you did 5 years ago that had a decent budget and name attached to it. Really you mean ‘fuck it’s hard and I often wake up in a cold sweat wondering how I’m going to put tartare sauce on the table tonight…’
Anyway, to the point. A problem shared is a problem, well, still, but it’s good to chat it through, peer to peer, nonetheless so you realise you’re not alone. Or if you are, you have people who might’ve been through the same scenario and can share their experience. I always find it’s comforting, therapeutic, exhausting, fun, disappointing, to get together with other business owners and share concerns, joys, frustrations, cigarettes and alcohol.
So, I’ve set up this new (anti) networking group called ‘What’s Your Problem?’ which is basically a few business owners getting together informally, either in the Spaces bar on the roof terrace or in a spit and sawdust boozer, to discuss business matters, throw anything in the ring, and to massage each others shoulders, egos and weary heads as well as scratching each others’ backs and helping to share each others’ loads. You never know, we could even end up working together, but this isn’t about that. It’s about a few like-minded people sharing ideas and experiences.
I personally hate networking, so it’s not about that. Go and join the BNI if that’s your bag. I find chatting to other business owners useful. I’m not lonely, honest.
We can do it in the pub, although my dodgy tinnitus might make it a bit hard for me to hear, although I have mastered lip reading lately, or we can do it – well, anywhere. The key is that it’s informal, there’s no agenda, you just bring your ideas, frustrations, concerns, hopes and despairs to the table in a non judgemental, non corporate environment where wearing ties and not wearing socks is banned. Rules are for fools, apart from those two.
If you’re interested in joining me, send me an email here firstname.lastname@example.org and we can arrange something. I reckon we need 4 of us to call it a ‘gathering’, or maybe a ‘Notworking’ chat.