Tips for Business Start Ups: how working with the grain of the wood can combat institutional fungal infection.

Many start up business men and women start up precisely because their current employer has an innate ability to shut down the burgeoning entrepreneur’s energy, vision and appetite for the work in hand.

Ray has been working in the public sector on and off for over 20 years: more off than on in recent times as he sees his employer become increasingly wooden in its response to the economic challenges it faces. It obsesses about targets, forgets about quality, treats it staff with ever increasing forgetfulness and takes on the appearance of an ash tree suffering from the later stages of ash dieback.

Whilst Ray has loved his work, he realises increasingly that this is not shared by the battalion of administrators who have taken root in the work place and who are trying to save the stricken fraxinus excelsior. Where once his work was concerned with public service, it now is increasingly preoccupied with spin, counter spin and presenting itself for maximum impact in terms which aim to woo venture capitalists from sunnier shores rather than reassure its local citizens of how it will enable them navigate the social service storms which are on the horizon over the next five years.

Ray is faced with a conundrum. He has been seduced by the vision of plotting his own destiny as an independent trader through the economic squalls which batter his home city’s frontiers. But he knows too that a lowly carpenter in a large public sector organ is not going to find it easy to persuade the wider world to buy his skills and products which are increasingly being squandered by the infected tree at the bottom of the allotment.

Whilst he’s been adept at knocking out things from his shed in a remote part of the organ’s empire, he’s worried about his ability to sell anything and scale up his production line which would enable him to pay the bills. The organisational fear he’s been fending off for years is in danger of infiltrating the grain of his carpenter’s soul.

However, his skills on the lathe, plane and jigsaw; his knowledge of the many grades of sand paper and different types of lacquer means that he knows intuitively how to erase any obtuse pieces of bark, wear away any unsightly stains and polish a seemingly dull veneer into something resembling mahogany. He knows too that working with the grain of the wood, rather than against it, is likely to produce a much more satisfying working environment for himself – as well as higher quality finished artefacts.

Ray may have honed his carpentry skills in the workshop by applying them to unprepossessing lumps of 2 be 4 – but he’ll find that they can be transferred to dealing with customers, estate agents and bankers. All he needs to do is look hard inside his own woody workshop soul, make an inventory of his tools, skills, knowledge and experience and start to make his skills work for himself, rather than for the infected lump of organisational driftwood he is currently wasting his time in.

Ray may have worked in wood for years and worked with wood in the work place for even longer: but his future now depends on his carpentry skills being applied to his life outside his workshop. If he doesn’t get out now, the fungus infecting his current employer is likely to infect the young sapling of a business he is currently nurturing in the potting shed at the bottom of the allotment.

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