Then I realised that we are all in the heart business when I think of how brave we need to be to run our own business.
I remember once sitting next to a man at a dinner party, a man I had known since we had been children together. Our dads had both been serving soldiers in the Royal Marines and we had shared school holidays and plane rides back to school in England from far flung places. In adult life, my childhood friend is a top international television executive.
This dinner was on a New Year’s Eve, black tie, in somebody’s posh house with all the trappings of a successful corporate life around us, just like my friend enjoyed in his own life. I knew that he was taken to work by a chauffeur. I knew also that he had just had a major career disappointment, something that he had wanted for himself for a very long time and put one hundred percent into achieving had been denied him. Also that the sacrifices he had made for his career had very nearly cost him his marriage, more than once.
And he turned to me and said, with admiration in his voice, that he had always considered me very brave to work for myself. What he meant was that he felt very safe in institutions: boarding school, university, rugby club and corporation – you know where you are. At least, he knew where he was. I never did. I just felt lost in those places, swallowed whole.
I remember my reply. “I have always thought of you as the brave one. To put on a suit and commute into a chrome and glass HQ office and dance to another’s tune – that’s bravery to me.”
What’s brave to you?
Are you still waiting in the so-called safety of your job but yearning to step out on your own, a little too scared perhaps still to take the jump but determined one day to create something of your own?
Or have you already made the leap and discovered that you need to be brave nearly every day that you get up and make your own opportunities in business and in life?
Whilst there is no such thing as a job for life any more, it can still feel “safe”, that pay cheque at the end of each month. And self-employment by comparison can feel anything but. It is exciting and challenging and terrifying all at once and most of the time I wouldn’t have it any other way although sometimes, in weak moments, I do occasionally catch myself envying my friends their pensions, health benefits and paid holidays. It’s rare but it’s human to peek over the neighbour’s fence occasionally and wonder what it would be like to be in their shoes for a while. A very short while.
Are we brave or foolish to take the risks of working for ourselves? I am aware that millions of us have no choice right now too.
I spoke to a colleague today who is a brand new start-up; he’s been running his business for one month only. I asked him about his highs and lows to date and he said it is the best thing he’s ever done. I asked him why and he said, simply “It feels right”.
And there’s the answer. Whatever we do, whichever way we decide to go, it has to feel right for us. More right than wrong, at least.
Are you hesitating on the brink of stepping out into this exciting world of starting your own business or have you taken the plunge and are not getting things quite right yet? How can I help? I’d love to hear more about your new business. Send me an e-mail and tell me all about how it’s going, or leave a comment below sharing your thoughts and feelings then everyone can be inspired by your bravery.