The babe has a cold which has led to several sleepless nights for us both. I feel mind-bendingly tired and tearful. Anthony isn’t able to help as much as I’d like, so I’ve made the (very unlike me) decision to not work until she’s better and hand everything over to Anthony. He’s happy to do it – but my controlling nature makes me reluctant. But I know that he’s capable and that trying to do everything always leads to disaster – I’ll end up ratty with everyone including myself. If you ever want your business to grow (& for you to be happy!) don’t try and do everything yourself. Trusting others is vital and empowering for all.
Right now I am taking any tiny bit of time when I am not feeding/comforting/changing the babe and not utterly exhausted to cram in bits of work. I’m not getting a lot done. I could probably do in two hours of uninterrupted office time what I am squeezing out over a week – but the important thing is I am doing what I can and things are making progressing. I am following a least some of my own advice by concentrating on the really important tasks. Yesterday Anthony and I went for a meeting at the Guardian, my first time out without the baby (who is 4 weeks old today!) It totally exhausted me travelling across London on a month of little sleep. I also missed my baby like a heart ache, I heard a baby cry at the station and almost burst into tears. But it was worth it because we will probably do some good business with them. I also like the idea of working a little now so that I don’t have to go back to full time work until she is at least 3 I did that with Theo and it was brilliant. As long as I look after myself and don’t take on too much then I think it’s possible. This is what works for me.
I was once given this piece of advice by Gordon Roddick – founder with his wife Anita of The Body Shop. Of course I ignored it (why take advice from a highly successful businessman) but over the course of my ventures it has held up as one of the simplest and best pieces of advice I’ve been given. I don’t like to apply it to my plans because I am an impatient lady – but I try to. I don’t always know how though. When your planning something you’ve never done before it can be tough to plan accurately. For this business I’ve way underestimated how quickly we could get things organised. We wanted to spend several months in Paris between now and next summer but London tasks have made it tough. And I had a few tough months over the summer when i was pregnant & feeling crappy because my iron levels had dipped so I got a lot less done on the business than I hoped (there are always unexpected delays)
(BTW it’s very hard to make dinner, look after your baby and write a blog at the same time. Poor time management? Hmmm let’s look at that tomorrow)
My impatience is both a curse and a blessing. A blessing because I’m good at getting things done quickly, am not intimidated by seemingly enormous tasks with ridiculous deadlines. I don’t wait for the perfect conditions in order to get started. But on the flip side I expect things to move quicker than they do and often set up impossible deadlines for myself & my team that dishearten all around when they aren’t achieved. So I have to come to terms with the fact that it’s not all going to happen the way I dreamed it in my head- Paris has to wait a while and that’s OK. Sometimes the deadlines in my head are imaginary.
People often assume the reason I have started businesses and worked for myself for most of my career is because I am fearless. Friends of mine often say ‘Oh I couldn’t start a business, I’d be too scared.’ Fear though is ever-present in my life – I just refuse to give in to it (on most days) In fact I spend a lot of time trying to keep it at bay. I know people for whom fear is a driver, it gets them up in the morning, motivates them to do better. I on the other hand find fear frequently paralysing – it keeps me in bed, it takes me away from the office and into the arms of the nearest cake shop. And so I have had to learn how to manage the fear so that I can get things done.
These are things that help me when it feels like it’s getting too much
– I can’t escape the fear, there is no magic formula. So I just try to let it be – like a scary looking spider on the ceiling, I try to accept that its there and when I stop running from it feels less overwhelming
– I tell myself – of course I’m scared! I’m doing something new and adventurous and crazy and wonderful. I am not doing the 9-5, I have no job security, it’s perfectly natural to feel fear.
– Fear is there because I so desperately want things to work – and wanting and desiring to achieve something good is a very positive thing. I care a lot, and caring is good.
– One step at a time. When you are working alone, or starting something with a few people it’s really tough to gauge your progress. There is no structure and therefore it can seem as if everything takes ages and nothing is really getting done. My mantra for everyday therefore – to make me feel like things are progressing and also to help keep the fear in check is – what one thing can I do today that will progress the business in the most significant way? It could be making a phone call to a potential client, finishing a sponsorship proposal, writing that email to your lawyer. I find that amongst all the boring stuff if you can have one bright and shining achievement every day it’s easy to keep your spirits high and your fear nice and low.
– And finally there are just some days when nothing will work and it takes me over. So I just say – OK! Here you are fear, you’ve got me today. I’ll give in. We’ll start again tomorrow. Because life isn’t perfect, we aren’t robots, and some days just completely suck.
New baby, new business, new adventures - we hope! Now where to start...I have a small window of opportunity each morning after the babe is fed and falls back into her contented reverie of sleep. After the morning turns to afternoon I am too tired to do anything worthwhile so this is it. I try not to let the panic of my endless to do list overwhelm me and pick instead a few core tasks that will move the business forward in the most significant way possible. I have spent years pontificating, procrastinating and generally arsing away my time - but with such small quantities of time to play with her (1 or 2 hours max) I have to be smart. Today I am going to focus on getting our requests out to contributors for the new London at Dawn book. We need some big names to contribute - to make it 'starry and shiny' so people will pay attention to us. Even though we have to play this celeb-game we are going to try and do it with integrity - so only ask people we admire and who we think are going to write interesting things. Integreity is obvious I think as are cheap gimmicks. (My little girl has woken up and is head butting me into paying attention. She isn't supposed to be awake having chowed down the milk and passed out on a full belly merely half an hour ago) I will attend to her and turn off the laptop...priorites. Until tomorrow.