Sleepwalking in small business

Blurry, foggy and fuzzy. Everything feels so indistinct these days. It’s difficult to grasp anything tangible, let alone find a break in the clouds to gaze at distant horizons. Never mind taking the long view, when it comes to commerce I can barely see into next week.

No, I’ve not ground to a halt or thrown in the small business towel. That simply cannot happen when you’re entirely responsible for earning your own income, but there’s a real sense of wading through porridge. All the current entrepreneurial advice about being agile, leaning in, pivoting and innovating just makes me feel all the more sluggish.

Maybe it’s just my age and the associated hormonal mayhem (seriously, menopause AND a pandemic?), but being upbeat and breezy about the future commercial viability for my business feels both fake and exhausting. Yes, I can develop new ideas, and I’ve got a few, but have I the chutzpah for plugging and promo? The thought of getting on the marketing bandwagon again makes me want to hide in a corner and cry.

Only kidding, crying would take too much effort, and I’m knee deep in inertia. I blame Covid-19. Thankfully, I’ve not suffered physically but the pandemic sure has played havoc with my ability to focus. This feeling of sleepwalking through small business is very weird indeed, but it vanishes when I’ve got actual work to get on with. The problem is that there’s just not enough work, which makes it hard to find, and maintain, that buzz for biz. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not in a complete dwam, I have plenty of productive days, but still, that sense of suspension remains.

For me, frantically scrabbling for new work is not a solution – the whiff of utter desperation from some quarters of the Scottish small biz community is already suffocating enough* – but allowing my hard-earned status to drop right off the radar is not an option either. So yes, there are moments when the future feels a bit bleak, and a nice steady 9-5 looks ever-more appealing, but once you’ve been your own boss it’s hard to imagine clocking on ever again.

There are chinks of light in the fog, and occasionally the skies clear completely to shine a light on new ideas and approaches (I’m really warming up to the notion of a four day working week). In gloomier moments, it’s hard to see how this can pan out positively in the long term. That said, the lady’s not for sinking.

Meantime, a huge debt of gratitude goes to those who’ve kept the faith with this one woman outfit, or come on board with Word Up during these difficult times. You folks will never know how much you’ve helped prevent personal and commercial freefall. The drinks are on me whenever you’re ready.

*NB this is not a criticism. I totally understand this desperation. The pandemic has wreaked havoc in so many people’s lives and businesses, it’s enough to drive anyone to utter despair.