Friday, June 26, 2009

The Ride :: The Diary of a Young Entrepreneur # 1 The Great Struggle

May 21, 2009

The Great Struggle

We are struggling. More pressing, I am struggling. I don't struggle that much in life so it kind of takes me by surprise when it happens. It's not that I don't struggle because I am so amazing; it's just that most things come relatively easy to me. So I am finding myself in unchartered territory.

The tricky thing now is that after 5 months of taking a beating, self doubt starts knocking on the door. You start questioning yourself and the decisions you have made. You start questioning what you are doing, your future, and if all this is really worth it.

Now when times are good, none of this is relevant. You are too busy making money, promoting people, entering new markets, and just generally being successful that you rarely reflect on the whirlwind happening around you. It's when you are down on your cards and you have no idea whether or not that last card up your sleeve is an Ace or a 2 of Queens.

I don't know if I mentioned here, but I run a small start up. Not wanting to go into a huge amount of detail, we operate within the sales industry. We started up about 2 months before the sh*t hit the fan last fall. It's a strange ol' time right now. Out of my close circle of 10 friends, 2 were laid off. This is just my close circle of friends. I can't recall the countless stories I have heard about people losing their jobs and some even their homes.

I was watching the Great British Menu last night. I am definitely one of those saddo's who Sky Plus' the whole series. Anyway, one of the chefs last night from the South East region, Tristan Welch, was just so full of positivity that I couldn't help but be happy just watching it. The other chef he was up against, Gordon Ramsey's new second hand man now that Marcus Wareing has left him, was a Michelin starred, Ferrari driving wanker. So jaded, so ensonced in his own world that even Tristan's positive attitude could not penetrate through. Walking to work this morning I tried to channel Tristan's positive attitude. It lasted right up until I got on the tube and someone stepped on my foot.

The trouble with trying to be positive all the time is that it is just so damn exhausting. Especially when the entire world is naturally in a negative state. Recession, wars, murder, everything being on sale and you still can't afford it. The truth is, we are in a world of trouble, and this time I am not going to walk through the pile of sh*t and come out smelling like roses.

So what to do.... the really terrible thing about my situation is that it's all my own doing. I don't actually have to be doing any of this. I could have some nice easy life somewhere, live comfortably off the family business, clock in my 9-5 and disappear into the world of comfort and nepotism. There are no school fees, making ends meet malarky with my life. My main concern is that my room in Capri this year will be "Garden View" instead of a view of the Faraglioni. I realise this makes me sound incredibly shallow, but everything is relative, right?

So it all comes down to what am I doing? Am I trying to prove myself? Do I want a yacht in 10 years time with the view, rather than the hotel room? Am I bored? Do other young entrepreneurs have these problems? It's a bit strange, I must admit. I started this company at 28, which still makes me a kid in my eyes. There are a large number of people out there who have started companies before they hit 30. There are also a large number of people who hit 30 and their companies had already gone under. Well at least that's what the stats say.

But what about the rest? What about those ridiculous success stories? What about the great entrepreneurs of our generation? Did they too go through the Great Struggle? It all feels so personal that the only way I can really open up about it is by anonymously posting this, well, I don't even know what this is. I don't think I can bear to be called a "blogger". Misery loves company and I can tell you right, I would love to hear someone else's story. It reminds me of being 16 years old, the last time that life was really hard, and I mean really hard. I think I used to send myself to sleep with the mantra of what doesn't kill me will only make me stronger and "only the strong survive". If anyone spent their teenage years watching the movie, "Dazed and Confused", you will remember OSS.

So whether you are the CEO of a company or vacuuming the carpets at night, remember, we are all struggling. No one wants to talk about it, but it's written in the newly formed lines on our young faces and the proof is in the smelly Tupperware container you now carry to and from work every day instead of buying a Big Bold from EAT.

If only the strong survive, what will become of everyone else?

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