How you can be crap at business but still find success
Is your lifestyle the measure of success?
There are plenty of business success stories to be inspired/ intimidated by and I for one spend a lot of time thinking about all the things we should be doing. Chris and I are under no illusions, when we compare ourselves with other high falutin’ entrepreneurs, we don’t quite measure up. But does it matter? Can you have a business which would be ripped to shreds on Dragon’s Den, but against all odds still seem to come out smelling of roses?
MBA free zone
Neither Chris nor I have a business background. I’m a psychologist, Chris ‘does IT’; it’s an eclectic mix. We outsource our financial management (I can picture the cries of dismay by those of you more fiscally astute) and have a catalogue of incomplete projects on a semi permanent state of ‘hold’ as our attention diverts to other things. We don’t really like sales and are abysmal at monitoring and follow up. There isn’t one area of our business where we feel we have honed it to perfection. Most of the time I feel we are doing a half assed job. How’s that for being honest!
Last week we learnt that for the first time in 6 years we failed to make any profit. Oh dear. We know why (there was a huge change in one of our industries and we lost 3 of our biggest clients the year before). Much of that year was spent laying the ground work for a long term new plan which is just starting to pay dividends now. But despite knowing all this, it felt like a huge backwards step bearing in mind the 6
figure profit we’ve managed to rack up in previous years. So what’s the lesson to be learned here?
Work life balance to the extreme
For one reason or another I haven’t been able to work for the last 2-3 months and Chris’ productivity has been a tad compromised as he’s been looking after me. I have been putting in a maximum of two hours on a good week. I’ve made the 4 Hour Work Week look like a workaholics manual.
Not the best time to take a picture!
But yet, our income has remained steady. The relationships we have been building for the last three years for one of our projects are still generating enquiries. Commitments have been met as wonderful colleagues have rallied round and handled delivery I would normally do, earning me money while I stay in bed. Today we’ve been asked to be interviewed on a radio show and last week we had two enquiries about providing a service which will generate £18k of business. Our passive income has continued to slowly grow and pay our mortgage even while I have done nothing to propel it forward. Our scattergun approach may pull us in too many directions a lot of the time but when the bottom falls out of one stream of income, we have others to fall back on while we pick ourselves back up. Lack of security can be a key dissuader for a lot of people contemplating self employment. I think I’d be feeling way more insecure right now if I was working for someone else.
Playing the long game
Of course this situation can’t go on forever and as much as we are benefitting from past endeavours right now, things will need to go back to normal eventually in order to keep our financial future steady. Plus I miss work. But when Chris and I were talking about how many things we get wrong it made us smile to realise that despite this, we are in a situation where we can travel when we like (having spent 8 months of the last 12 overseas), have savings in the bank, don’t have to worry about money and can even work ridiculously reduced hours and manage just fine. Just think what we could do if we were on full power, eh?
It’s great to look back and remember what you saw and achieved
Whatever your reservations and insecurities, some days you’ll screw up, some days you’ll make progress. Sometimes the results will be so far down the road you will have forgotten what on earth you did to get there in the first place. None of it matters as long as you are doing SOMETHING. You’ll learn as you go, through your own mistakes and from observing others, and you will always wish you were doing better. But that doesn’t mean you aren’t doing ok right now after all.
Are you striving for perfection or just trying to get some things right some of the time?
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