Ten things I wish I had known when I started my business

When you start a business you have a million dreams and a can do attitude. Set backs are just that, and stamina and determination can defy bullshit and commercial fear.  I do wish though, that I had had a small insight into what really matters when you’re leading a business. So after twenty five years, here is my top ten things I know now about business leadership that I wish I’d known then.

  1. Everyone lies to you. Business advisers, friends, colleagues and even family. Most of the time of course this is for the best of reasons but sometimes it’s a little more Machiavellian. You have to trust someone but it’s been my instincts that have rarely let me down when third parties provide you with a convoluted truth, sometimes with the mistaken belief that this is for your own good.
  2. The sun will come up at some point. There are always bleak periods where nothing goes right, you won’t sleep, you will probably drink or eat too much and you will take it all out on the ones who love you most. It gets better and you look back and think “THAT caused me so much grief and for what!”.
  3. It’s never just about the money. A desire for security and a profound fear of failure have pushed me beyond the limits I didn’t know existed, but it’s been the fun of the journey that I can reflect on, not the destination that have made it all worthwhile.
  4. You CAN have it all, just SOME of the time. Anything else is barmy and unrealistic to expect. Choose, if you can, when you have this and learn to be pragmatic about the rest of the time.
  5. The highs eventually outnumber the lows. Though you won’t believe this when you are in those very dark places we all go to, the light eventually switches itself back on.
  6. Getting the best people is 90% chance and luck. If you do get that amazing person to work with you the other 110% of the time you need to spend on keeping them.
  7. What you think important isn’t necessarily the same as what others believe. People are all driven by different things. Partly this is generational but it’s also influenced by nurture and culture. Don’t assume anything else, you will get it wrong.
  8. Everyone is just making it up as they go along. Whether it is imposter syndrome or bullshit central, no one is as perfect or as professional as they may first appear.
  9. Being vulnerable isn’t a sin and can be a virtue. We are all of us a little (and often a lot) scared by sharing this vulnerability. You can make yourself more human and therefore empathetic if you do.
  10. By and large everyone has their own agenda. The things you stress about will be your stresses and not those of other people. They won’t recall what you said that you have worried about for the last X period they are too busy worrying about their issues.

Jo Haigh

CEO fds Director Services Limited

@JoHaigh_fds www.fds-group.uk.com

Jo Haigh is a practicing Corporate Financier who in 1989 set up fds Director Services which she still runs alongside a range of businesses providing other related services.

fds Finance, a boutique corporate finance house
fds Knowledge, a bespoke director level training company
fds Group, specialists in business consultancy
fds Business Document Design which specialises in document design for professional business use

Jo's LinkedIn profile