At first, acting like yourself in small business is like your first Year 8 social. The one where you rock up and pretend to be completely cajh* like everyone else, even though you’re dying inside.
But if you’re too shiny suit/nametag about your business, people sniff it out for kilometres around. If you’re all Grateful Dead t-shirt about it, people think your business is a hobby and that you don’t need to be paid.
So what if your true self genuinely wears a Europe ‘72 shirt with no pants, rolls off a bed of Cheezels every morning and fires up a fat Camberwell Carrot? How do you run a business without losing the energy and joie de vivre that brought you here in the first place? Isn’t it best to be true to yourself and get though in the best way you can?
I tend to think so. *flicks orange crumbs off lap*
I’ve made every small business mistake there is. Those lessons did not catapult me into those Top 10 Must-Know Women Entrepreneurs Approaching 40 lists that no-one writes. I have not written a book about leaning in, sleep schedules, or balancing business with motherhood. I am not an inspiration. After 9 years in business, I have made all the mistakes. This is because I am myself. And this person learns best through bumbling, blundering (and a touch of shambling).
Sound like the copywriter for you? Call me now!
My new business image is pretty me (well…the ‘me’ of my imagination), and for my industry it’s pretty weird and non-standard. But it feels right, much more genuine to who I am (yet somewhat businessy) – and as I am what my clients are getting, then at least there’s no surprises.
But seriously, let’s talk about the myth of the Overnight Success Story and small business. I got started on it t’other week, and now I’ve got a flea in my sou’wester.
I must extract the bee from my chapeau.
New York Magazine explores the comforts of office life vs entrepreneurship in this superb article by Jennifer Senior. I’d be interested to hear people’s thoughts on it. Her main point is that most individuals who go out on their own are not touched by the Hand of God, but are those who have some sort of support beforehand. I think she has an interesting point, but still maintain that a variety of contributing forces contribute to your success:
- Partners/friends (could be financial or emotional support)
- Parents and family background (ditto)
- Market forces (such as a recession or emerging industries and technology)
- Your surrounding business community (or absence of)
- The talent you were born with
I’ve got some of the latter and have done pretty well from the former. And after 9 years in business it’s still evolving (and these days I’d add ‘a lower tolerance to bullshit’). But some people do not have a good combination of all the above, yeah? Talented but with no cash injection to get started, blind enthusiasm and no talent, a strong work ethic and an average idea, or rich, privileged, and dumb as a stump.
The challenges for these people are going to be greater or less, depending on the recipe of these forces. I’m ready to put that Overnight Success Story to bed. Sleep tight.
Heaps cooler, more laid-back version of casual. Blithely disinterested in the way only teenagers can pull off. Origin. 1980s