It’s tough out there in start up land in lots of different ways and it’s not until you start out on that start up road that you realise how tough it is. Whether this be starting up a business, or starting up a new chapter in your life, the heroic journey you are about to embark upon is never clear until you’re in the middle of it.
You have an idea, a dream, a vision but you’re stuck in a day job you don’t quite know how you got into and even less of an idea of how to get out of. Your dream becomes an itch, your itch becomes a preoccupation, your preoccupation becomes obsessive and there comes a point where you just have to shake that obsessing monkey off your back, get out of the house and get on with it.
But you have a personal finance history which resembles Krakatoa with cash leaking out in every direction, creditors chasing you for debts you incurred many moons ago when the world was your oyster and the friendly face of your bank manager was offering you unlimited friendly credit at friendly rates of interest with nothing in the way of security other than to demonstrate that you had a friendly piggy bank hidden under your bed. But those days are long gone and the friendly faces have gotten greyer, bleaker and less friendly. The piggy bank is still under the bed and it has the grand total of £17.14p in mixed copper denominations weighing it down. Much like you feel when you wake up in the morning.
You want to make something happen from this business idea but quickly realise that in order to do that you need other people on board; people like employees or apprentices but you soon realise that they don’t have anything like the same degree of vested interest in your obsession as you do and would be much rather counting the hours down till they can down tools and head off to the nearest bar along with their apprentice mates who care even less about the businesses they have been entrusted with. You look at the concept of zero hours contracts and wonder who in their right mind would sign a contract that guarantees them nothing in exchange for their personal liberty and you realise at this point that growing your business with new staff is not all it’s cracked up to be.
You want so much to make your latent vision manifest and engage the help of any number of advisors, supporters, coaches, mentors and agencies who all come to with shiny happy faces whilst waving bundles of forms at you. This is promising until they tell you that you’ve used up your 12 hours allowance of support and now can no longer be of assistance, thank you very much it’s been great working with you and goodbye and by the way what’s your postcode?
Your family are screaming at you to stay in your job, your advisors are screaming at you to get out of your job, your bootcamp director screams at you end of and everyone everywhere is screaming their own agendas through the megaphone that your business has become to them. “Grow grow grow! Sell sell sell! Jobs jobs jobs!” And all you want to do is make a difference, however big, however small, just make a difference to the part of the planet you currently occupy.
There are promises promises everywhere: of expense accounts, of tax breaks, of foreign jaunts, of funding, of assistance, of GVA, of debt, of equity, of lives lost, gained and squandered: everyone everywhere is promising you the moon or at least pointing up to the sky and screaming ‘There it is! Now go get it!‘ They may as well add ‘Fido’ for all the use their exhortations are.
So yes, it’s tough out there in start up land in lots of different ways and it’s not until you start out on that start up road that you realise how tough it is. But at the end of the road, the joy about the heroic journey you are part of is that you can look at yourself in the mirror in the morning and say to yourself: I did that. I took those risks, I made it happen, I made that difference. The business start up heroic journey doesn’t get much better than that.