Ok, so here it is. The hard truth. Business isn’t easy.
As I sit here on the earliest train imaginable to travel half the length of the country to sit with a customer and re-pitch to keep their business after many years of providing a service I’m reminded of a poignant fact. There is always work to do.
As the CEO of several small to medium sized companies over the past 15 years I can say with confidence, there is no such thing as Easy street, or at least not in my experience. The reality of any small business owner is the continual pressure to grow, expand, achieve and, above all else, succeed, that rarely leaves your conscious despite years of gaining experience on the roller coaster.
Whether you are ‘that graduate’, stood side-on to your peers at the crossroads of early employment breaking away from the traditional milkround, or the frustrated employee who can see what the boss is doing wrong, or the most commendable of all entrepreneurial spirits that’s picked themselves up having been discarded by Da Man. When making the choice to Start-Up we generally all face the same crossroads….
On one side you can see clearly along the road ahead as a picture of efficient progression with its illuminated sides, freshly laid road surface and neatly divided lanes to help the people who choose this path to move along it with ease. Even the cats eyes offer those behind the wheel a semaphoric guide for how to get past anything that is blocking your way to the “destination.” On the other side, you can see just to the first corner of this dimly lit, dusty road that you have no idea where it goes or how long it will take to get there. But it looks fun!
For many, like me, even with the multitude of screaming voices inside saying “turn back and take the main road”, the lure of a Kerouacian sense of adventure and intrigue is just too much and the notion of going it my own way prevailed.
I promised Claudia that this blog post would be ready by the 1st and here I am on the train frantically patting away at the iPad trying to create a post (my first ever blog?!) that would connect with customers using Worx. I’ve found myself more inclined to share the emotive side of my experience in business first and then move on to the more practical advice that you can actually use (read: skip to next week if you just wants facts).
I started my first business at the age of 22 with two partners and only £6,000 investment. Within 5 years we had grown an international, multi-million pound publishing business when my epiphany came… It’s not enough to just build a business for the money; it has to give something back to you.
There will be too many times you are sat on the early train or the red-eye flight heading for a meeting you’d rather not have, knowing that if it goes well your business will largely remain the same, but if it goes badly turnover will drop by x% and this may mean making difficult, business contracting decisions which only serve to take you further from your growth path and delay your arrival time at the destination even further.
Why on earth am I telling you this? I’ve found business, like life, is about the journey. If you constantly measure your successes based on your progression along the journey then even the strongest of characters will hear the echoes of the back seat cranial passengers crying ” Are we nearly there yet?” However, if you measure your performance on life quality, the ability to pick up the kids from school in an emergency, the choice of where and how you work you will be pleasantly surprised how far down the road you already are. As cliched and oft annoying as driving analogies are, in this case there really isn’t a better one because there’s a myriad of directions, paths and modes of transport to get you where your chosen destination is. For some this will be the private Island in the Bahamas, yacht and kids at the best school, for others this will be the contentment of a mortgage paid off and time to enjoy friends and family in a way we can only imagine retirees do, but we forget that by the time most people reach retirement or feel they can take their foot off the gas, it is almost too late. The family you’re now able to spend time with have left the nest (provided UK houses prices don’t continue to stay overheated) and body you wish to enjoy pursuits with is starting letting you know what it’s had to put up with to get you there.
Be mindful of these facts and make use of your freedoms as they will help you through the tough times and when you next find yourself on a bleary eyed commute remind yourself; It’s not every day, it’s your decision to do it, you are on your own journey to your own destination.
Worx is about making some of the little things in business easier to give you more time to focus on what your business is and who you are targeting. Big companies throw money at problems, small companies throw time, neither of which can afford to be wasted. I decided to invest in Worx because it made sense to me. I can’t count the wasted weeks and months I’ve spent trying to learn
new Website technologies to present my company in the light I wished it to be seen in. To have a ‘web presence’ that gave visiting customers the confidence to fill out the contact form or, God forbid, pick up the phone and speak to us about their requirements. In short to emulate the ‘big fish’ whose market share I just need to nibble at to give the business a stable footing on which to grow. As time goes on the job you do and the service you provide will win you loyalty and long term custom. If you invest this working capital into the foundations of your company you can go a long way to improving the quality of your road and reducing your time to your destination but you have to stay confident and focussed and emancipate yourself from the minutiae.
Worx is all about freeing you. Giving you time to focus on the strategy, not the implementation. What we are doing is not rocket science nor will it become the next Google or Facebook, it does what it does and (I hope) it does it well.
I guess only time will tell if this is the first grain of sand on my island paradise…