It’s very tempting to just write:
And there’s that blog post, done.
That feels a little unfair though because it doesn’t really tell the story of small business. A couple of blog posts ago I mentioned that a small business is kinda like raising a kid. At first it’s all very hands on. You’re exhausted, haven’t eaten properly in a while, can’t remember the last time you showered and that child needs your attention ALL THE FREAKING TIME. All you knew was that parenthood was meant to be you and your child all blissed out and happy, then you did it and found that parenthood is just about the messiest job (both physically and emotionally.) As time goes on though, you get the hang of stuff and the older they get, the easier parenthood gets. For one, you can stop wiping their butt and for another, you no longer have to chase them down as they run full-tilt into the traffic. So, yeah, it gets easier.
As a Mom to teenagers, I’ve come to realise that while it’s absolutely true that things get easier, other things come along which make it harder. So no, you don’t need to wipe butts anymore, but you do need to wipe your child’s tears when their friends go all Mean Girls on them. And no, you don’t need to chase them as they run into the traffic, but you do need to keep them from driving into traffic without looking or signalling. The same is true for small business – plenty of things get a lot easier. Once you start your marketing, keeping it going is easier. Once you’ve gotten better at responding to emails, they don’t take up nearly as much time. Once you’ve dealt with a client complaint, if it happens again you’re far less affected by it and more able to deal with it. Honestly, the more you stick at it, the easier SO MANY THINGS get. It’s those first few months or years where you are living, breathing and eating that business which are truly testing of your patience and will. It’s those months when you’re worrying about having too few orders or not enough cash flow that really test your ability to cope and shake your foundations of confidence. Frankly, the start-up years are bone crushingly exhausting on many levels – it’s not dissimilar to having sleep deprivation when you’ve got a baby in the house.
As business changes and grows, YOU change and grow too. You get more confident in things, you learn to prioritize, and yes, you learn to sleep when the baby sleeps. Then as you’ve just figured it all out, new things come along to test you. You lose your lease or outgrow your home or premises, you need to learn to hire (and learn to fire), you invest in some stuff that doesn’t work or you have a product that unexpectedly goes viral. Stuff happens and you have to deal with it…but again, it gets easier as you learn more, grow more, pull up your big kid pants and learn to cope. The key is in learning more and understanding that each stage of your business is a stepping stone to the next one. Eventually, kids and businesses grow up…and in both cases, we hope our investment in them is enough to afford a decent retirement home for us.
So does small business ever get easier? Yes, definitely it does – and you get smarter as you go along too so that the hard parts seem not so hard and the new parts seem more like adventures.