The Most Important Business Lessons I learnt from my Ugly Sisters

The Most Important Business Lessons I learnt from my Ugly Sisters

As far back as I can remember I’ve wanted to start my own business.  Throughout my working life, there’s been this underlying yearning, this desire, this urge if you will, to start up on my own; to be, as so eloquently put by Invictus, the master of my own destiny.

Yet, I didn’t pay it enough heed.  Already in a full time career, a family, children and all the trappings, commitments and responsibilities that come bundled with that, stability had to come first. That was my thinking. Get some roots down. Build some foundations. Establish some security, then, when the time was right, it would be time for the business.

At the time however, I wanted Cinderella but didn’t want to go through the ugly sisters.

The Midnight Ball

Problem is, (and this should come as news to no-one) security gets comfortable. Easy to stumble into – daily routine, job, monthly pay check.

Easier certainly than thinking of what an alternative could be. Especially when all is going well; As far as life’s concerned, its relatively smooth sailing.

And comfortable gets nice. It’s warm, it’s fuzzy – and as things lulls us into believing that in general, all’s OK in our world.

At least for the moment.

And it’s not even that I ignored my yearning for starting up on my own – In my spare time, I started looking speculatively into starting an online business. I even started a couple of them part-time.

But that’s all it got to. A start. You know how it is – time’s an issue. Full time career, family, voluntary work, social commitments, leisure activities – amongst all that, how was the business going to progress? It didn’t. It couldn’t. As I said, I didn’t pay it enough heed. Or do it enough justice.

Not even when warning shots came whistling over the bowline. Three of them.  Bam. Slam. Kabam. All exploding very loudly, and very clearly and very close to all that we as a family had worked for, all that we had achieved so far.

Those very foundations shook and shuddered, rocked and trembled, with the after-shocks of fear, uncertainty and worry being felt by me and those close to me.

The Clock Struck 12

I had got laid off no less than three times in seven years.

So much for the security of a corporate career. And the scary thing was, each time I opted for the option of finding another job. ‘Sure, you got made redundant’ I told myself, ‘but getting another job has still got to be a more secure option than starting up on your own.

Get another job, get a bit more established – then you can go full on into launching your own venture.’

How much more established did I need to get? I mean, after the third time something had to change. Don’t know if the foundations were going to survive a fourth round. It was going to change. There wasn’t going to be a fourth time – not if I could help it. Wasn’t going to go through that again – emotionally or financially.

So launching my own business became the priority. From that moment on that’s solely what I focused on. Which made me realize soon enough (as if I didn’t really know already) why I hadn’t managed to accomplish this previously.

It takes a certain type of determination. A particular type of effort.  A different way of thinking, a different way of working. I worked hard when I had a job – but it’s not the same type of hard when you have that safety net of working for someone else.

For most of us, as long as we do what we’re supposed to do, our jobs are relatively safe (until of course, we get laid off…)

So performance doesn’t really come into it – until you start up on your own. Then it’s a big deal. You’ve taken the risk, you’ve jumped in with both feet, you’re fully exposed – so you need to get it working. And soon. So you’re going to have to perform.

To get results. And to do that you’re going to have to want it. Bad. Because soon enough you’re going to be faced with that question – Is this what you really want?

Because it’s one thing to want to be an entrepreneur – yet quite another to make a success of it. It’s quite easy to be seduced by the idea of having your own successful business. But that’s being in love with a result.

To get there you’ve also got to love, or at the very least accept and appreciate, what it takes to get you there. The uncertainty, the repeated failures, the risks, the early (and late) hours, the learning of new, alien concepts and systems, and all this for something that might – or might not work.

The Ugly Sisters

So – is this what you really want? Because to succeed in it, you’ve got to want it all. Whatever it comes with. Not just the result. If you want Cinderella, you’ve got to go through the ugly sisters first. It’s just the way it is.

So rather than asking yourself what it is you want from life, perhaps the more pertinent question would be – what is it that you are prepared to put up with? What is it you are prepared to struggle for?

Because this, more than anything will determine what results you can achieve – what you are truly capable of. Because you’ve accepted the whole deal.

So there’s no room no fairy stories. No lofty ideas of things you just like or things you think you want – just your actual, real wants. Because you know you are prepared to do the necessary dog-work to get you there.

Ugly Sisters are Everywhere

Look, we’re all going to experience a certain amount of pain regardless – it’s just the way life is. If we look at business, we all have to endure certain things. I look at myself and see that in the corporate world I had to suffer the pain of long commutes, of crappy paperwork, of navigating B.S office politics, of having to talk to and work with people I wouldn’t have necessarily interacted with outside of work.

That’s what part of having that job entailed. And for that I got a pay check – and a self-contrived notion of security that turned out to be pure fallacy. (My bad – no-one else’s….)

Its same with anything else – you want a great looking, ripped body, you got to accept the arduous workouts, the strict eating regimen, and live with sore and aching muscles for a time.

You want a loving, intimate relationship, you have to suffer the emotional roller-coaster that comes with that, the sexual tensions, the effort of compromise. Again – it’s just the way it is.

So if we’re all going to go through pain anyway, why not choose the pains you want to endure? Why not choose the suffering that will lead you to the results you want – what you really want, and make it you mission to face them head on? Granted, some pains may seem harder than others.

Starting your own business can seem a bigger pain – in terms of risk, of financial outlay, of a learning curve – than the pains of a paid job, but the rewards can be significantly greater. Yes, again – it’s just the way it is…

In Conclusion

So, to get what it is that you really want, be sure to fully accept those ugly sisters – to embrace and even covet them. Because simply flirting around with them just won’t cut it. Not if you truly want to get to Cinderella.

You’ll need to stare those repulsive relatives in the face, be fully engaged, alert, and prepared for a head-on confrontation. A full on seduction. Because they may be unattractive, but they’ve been around a while, been around the block – and know a thing or two about life, its wants and its desires.

And if you pass their test, only then, you’ll get your Cinderella – and as a bonus, learn to fully appreciate her along the way. And she you.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here