Time off for good business behaviour

The steep learning curve of starting a new small business certainly stays precipitous for a long, long time. Or so it seems from my own personal ascent of the sheer cliff face of commerce. Cos it sure as hell doesn’t feel that I’m going to be reaching the summit any time soon.

It’s not that every single wee steep upwards is done with trepidation and heart in mouth – some days you do feel that progress is pretty steady and that the only way is up. But there are other times when you feel that you’re dangling off the edge with only a shoogly hook and a fraying rope between you and a plunge into the abyss.

Part of the problem with this small business malarkey is, that for novices like me, it’s all so NEW. And while new can be thrilling, it’s not necessarily fun. New means making mistakes, and lots of them. Some of the mistakes I’ve made so far would make for a good bit of light entertainment if only they weren’t really rather embarrassing…

Making mistakes is all part of the enterprise adventure, of course. Being a novice means that there’s a fairly hefty dose of trial and error added to the business mix, a lot of head-scratching, and no small amount of blithering idiocy. But as wiser old business brains tend to remind you, you have to learn from your mistakes, and try not to make the blunders too costly in terms of money, and time.

Because waste of time is one of the biggest business blunders of all. I don’t mean personal time management, though dear knows, there are a bewildering variety of opportunities in the world of self-employment to squander minutes, hours and days dodging even the very most pressing tasks on the To Do list.

No, for me, one of the hardest lessons of all on the sole trader steep learning curve is learning how horribly quickly the waking hours fly by. It’s been quite an education to discover how much time really matters when you’re in sole charge of it, and even more of an education trying not get waylaid by time-consuming matters that really don’t matter.

Everyone in business (everyone, full stop) knows that there just aren’t enough hours in the day, but there’s no manual on how to make the most of the minutes. Well, yes actually, I know there are hundreds of self-help tomes on time management weighing down the shelves in Waterstones, but who’s got the time to read them? And despite the numerous (and sometimes bewildering) sources of new business support out there, very little of it offers help with managing the 9-5.

That’s because there is no 9-5 in business, of course, but also because only individual entrepreneurs can work out, by time trial and error, how to make the minutes matter.

So, I’m taking a tip from a more seasoned self-employee, and having a bit of time here and there to stop and step back from business. Not much time, but enough to suss out the next steps on the sole trader steep learning curve.

That will be time well spent, and no mistake.