Not enough entrepreneurs share the really tough, lonely and sometimes seemingly relentless pain that enterprise can sometimes bring – for a period as it seems things are falling down around us. Out of control, unaware of consequences, always experiencing new challenges the exhaustion requires enormous self discipline, self determination and I think a steely focus on the end goal, the passion that got us into the enterprise world. It is that purpose combined with a willingness to bounce back, to learn, to share and to be the fool that has often kept me going in the darkest of times. Thanks to my mentors, mates and those whom have shared wise words, usually born out of experience, it is these words that probably kept me going more than any other.
There may have been many times or situations where you may wonder where on earth to turn next. I have been there myself and have met many others in the same situation sometimes the advice is an honesty check, a reminder, and sometimes simply a challenge for someone to put their big pants on. (The nice lady like way of “growing a pair.”) In effect “Feel the fear and do it any way” and “What’s the worst that can happen?” from Dale Carneigie unbelievably powerful when you know however bad it is the world just keeps turning. Even now, I am spending time stepping back from my own mess called business telling myself to stop fannying about and make the decisions that will make the change in my investments to improve my own situation.
When people approach me with a problem within their company or with an idea, I am brutally honest, I was thrilled recently to be announced as Britain’s no bullshit entrepreneur. Sometimes you have to inform directly for someone to really hear sage advice. Often ideas may just be a hobby that you might be very passionate about, but is never going to work as a viable business, certainly not one worth investing in. Other times you might be too scared to make the decisions, even small ones, that are required to take the business forward. Sometimes it is only a KUTA (Kick up the arse,)that you need to make you see past the wood to the trees.
These days I find I am often asked for an opinion with regards to business ideas. I always wonder first whether I have any real experience which I can genuinely share and often I clarify with a health warning the reality that I will give my very direct opinion , it is an opinion from which I usually give a relevant example from my own personal experience. It may not seem much but every time I give up my hard won time, two things happen. One, I usually have to work harder longer hours myself to make up time gifted to others. Secondly and worst still is I surrender family time for others because of my love for enterprise and a desire to ay back all those whom stopped and gave me the value of their experience. Not meant sanctimoniously or in any other way but I do sometimes wish those asking appreciated that time is money whomever and whatever one’s role in life.
Below I share a resulting outcome from a situation where I spent an amount of time on the phone to a somewhat desperately challenged lady, sounding at the end of her tether. I find it a huge privilege to people and in turn they reply to me (see recent message below) to say that this brutal honesty when the somewhat harsh reality check I gave at the time has such profound results. Apparently on that occasion it was just what the individual needed to get them out of the sometimes fatal “start up rut.” Sometimes we get ourselves so buried in the day to day, the immediate needs of the business we forget to come off the hamster wheel to survey progress and potential. In the early days of any enterprise to some extent we behave as if all guns blazing, then the problems start to kick in and suddenly even the smallest hurdle is magnified into the biggest of Grand National proportion jumps. It is at this time you need to take the tough love and big pants approach. Pull on those big pants, be honest, if it’s not working, work it, change it, or dump it. If it’s a decision to make, make it, what’s the worst that can happen?
I am always very thankful for those that pay back time invested, here is the most appreciated thank-you message from a now re-energised individual whom I hope will go on and achieve greatness.
“You may recall, we spoke at the beginning of this year on the phone where you kindly offered some ‘tough love’ style advice to myself and my colleague Natalie about our brand which was in considerable trouble. We were tied in with some questionable investors and frankly were heading for disaster! We just couldn’t imagine how we were going to rescue the situation.
I wanted to take a minute to thank you for your advice as it had quite a transformational effect on myself and Natalie. You used the phrase “it is time to put your big pants on…” and this really resonated with both of us; we went away and did just that. Those “big pants” gave us the confidence and fight to completely transform the situation, which opened up an opportunity for our company to phoenix into something new with our dream investor onboard.”