Heavy mettle

Business, it’s like childbirth.

Well alright then, commerce is heehaw like childbirth, but there certainly are a couple of uncomfortable parallels. Firstly, if you knew the truth about what running a business is really like you’d have to think very seriously indeed about whether you’d go through it or not. And then, of course, there’s the exhaustion. You see business, like babies, is bloody exhausting. But it’s all so exciting and stimulating that you’re happy to live with the birthing pains and being tired to the bone.

Aye, that stuff’s all par for the small business course, but it’s not the whole story. Not that anyone expects to know the whole story right from the start, course not. Steep learning curve doesn’t even begin to cover the ongoing experience of going it alone. What’s more, that curve stays steep for a lot longer than you and your business bravado might care to imagine in the early days of your adventures in enterprise.

I’ve been hingin’ and clinging on to that curve for a couple years now, and any time I think I might be nearing the summit, I plummet right back down the parabola. Every time I inch my way back up, every time I find myself barely hanging on in there, sometimes with only a fraying safety rope and the slightest of fingertip grips, I mull over the nature of mettle.

Heavy mettle is the bit that doesn’t get much of a mention in small biz, certainly not in start-up circles. You’ll have heard all about resilience, and how important it is to build strong foundations and disaster planning into your entrepreneurial empire, but I’m deadly serious when I recommend that you keep plenty in your own personal stockroom too, because you’re really, really gonnae need it. See, when it comes to being your own boss, you’re going to have to be a dab hand at bouncebackability.

The old adage that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger rings pretty hollow when faced with the repeated stresses and strains of small business. The day-to-day is tricky enough, and inner resilience can sometimes be in short supply. Jeez, even the good stuff brings its own challenges – being insanely busy can stress test your self-employment mettle to the max. And that’s before you even consider those times when you’re ill, completely skint, or have been on the receiving end of an unexpected bit of bad news. Them’s the times when your personal and commercial core strength will be bent and pushed, right to the limit.

If you’re lucky enough to avoid breaking point, then you’ve probably already got the kryptonite core I’ve seen in so many who are great at making a go of it. Seems to me that to succeed in small business you need luck, drive, rock solid determination, and a finely tuned ability to get up off your entrepreneurial arse, dust yourself down and start climbing again. Again, and again, and again.

But BTW, there’s nothing wrong with having a few good greets along the way, stamping your feet in frustration or feeling like throwing the towel in.

Me? I do all of that and a whole lot more mooding on a regular basis, and no doubt I’ll keep having wobbles with Word Up, but d’you know what? This auld business broad is made of strong, strong stuff and she’ll simply keep on keepin’ on.