Are we throwing away opportunities?

Last night we were invited (via my dad) to the launch of The Bag Issue- a collaboration with Trudi Styler and The Big Issue. We knew it would be a great place to meet people who might want to contribute to the book- something we urgently need right now. But did we go? No. We stayed home and made mega batches of home made hot chocolate mix and snickerdoodle cookies for our son to give out for Xmas presents. It was a beautiful evening of family togetherness but it left us feeling bad this morning when we realised what we ‘should’ have been doing.

Before we could throw up on ourselves we had a meeting at a big publishing house about our book series. There was great enthusiasm for the project, a very small chance they may want to take it on. Even though we are going full steam ahead with self-publishing if someone wanted to do a series we’d be in there like a shot. Self-publishing seems to the best option here in the UK for our kind of book where bookshops are going bust left right and centre and making publishers insanely cautious. In all the other cities we want to do (New York, Rome, Paris) we’d need to find a local publisher. That means finding a deal in each country. So you can imagine the attractiveness of just signing up to one publisher, even if it meant we’d make less money.

I’m in two minds about whether we should have gone last night, after all we have a family too and we can’t do everything. Sometimes I make these rash decisions – like not going to places- and regret them straight away. But in the interests of keeping spirits up I’m going to forget about it and just focus on the good things we’ve done today.

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Without anxiety about imperfection

I heard this from a Buddhist (I can’t remember which one) and it struck me immediately as a great mantra when you’re starting a business.

The start up phase is a hugely messy business. You have to do a million things all at the same time, most of which you’re no good at and in ‘normal circumstances’ you’d never be called on to do. Bookkeeping, website building, sales, employee hiring etc. – you have to get your hands dirty and do every task, however much you loathe it, as best you possibly can. There will hopefully come a point in your business when most of these tasks will be taken over by ‘professionals’ and you are left in the most part by the things you are actually good at (the great fantasy of many small business owners & start up entrepreneurs). But in these early days that’s rarely possibly, unless you are generously financed, which most startups aren’t. What I have found to help me get through these early days is to remember that not everything needs to be done perfectly. When your list of tasks is miles long and you’re not very good at it anyway you have to do your best and then move on. If you can get things 70% right you are laughing in my opinion. There is always room to perfect things later. I mean if you think about – if before there was nothing and now there is something that’s amazing right?

So – what I try to regularly share with my husband and remind myself is perfection ain’t possible and so there is no use tying oneself up in knots about it. Being ‘without anxiety about imperfection’ is both liberating and essential at this point.