As I normally do now, I’m starting the blog for this week on Monday. There have been a few ‘events’ – as Harold Macmillan famously termed them – since the last post, but I must start with a story so dramatic, so worrying that I am amazed it is not on every front page.
Jurgen Klopp says “the boys are on the edge.” The games are coming too quickly. Something “has to change.”
You know what, Jurgen? I know quite a lot of owners and directors of SMEs who are ‘on the edge’ as well. They just don’t have the cushion of £100,000 a week…
So while we wait for the changes needed to make Jurgen happy again, let’s deal with the changes that have happened since the last blog post. America has a new President, or it will have when Joe Biden is inaugurated on January 20th. Let’s hope that at some point this week wise counsel prevails: that Donald Trump accepts the result and doesn’t pursue the scorched earth policy he currently seems to favour.
I’m pleased that Biden has won: I’m slightly concerned that he was the best America could find from 300m people, but the country will now perhaps have exactly what it needs. Calm government from the centre, with a Democrat President balanced by a Republican Senate.
Meanwhile, back here in the UK we’re in lockdown again, with the furlough scheme now extended until March.
The legislation and the advice continue to change on an almost weekly basis. Does anyone have any idea what conditions their business will be operating under in mid-January? No, me neither – even allowing for the promising news about a possible vaccine that emerged on Monday.
No wonder business owners and directors are ‘on the edge.’
And yet thousands of people want to join them.
I find that every bit as encouraging as the news about the vaccine.
There seem, of late, to have been any number of commentators rushing to characterise the ‘Covid generation’ as a ‘lost generation.’ Like the writer of this article, I think that’s nonsense. Thousands of young people have seen Covid as a chance to press ‘reset’ on their lives, to work out what is really important – and conclude that starting a business is the best way to find the economic security and work/life balance that they want.
Not all of those businesses will be successful. Maybe only one in 100,000 will reach the heights of Gousto, the latest tech unicorn. But along the way those new businesses will give their owners freedom, flexibility and the sense of satisfaction that comes from closing the office door at the end of the day and saying, “I built that…”
There’s one thing, though, that starting a business won’t give the ‘Covid generation.’ It won’t give them an easy ride.
I had to smile when I saw this article. ‘I wish someone had told me how hard it was going to be’ said the relatively new CEO. Every single person reading this blog can empathise with that. In the same way that we have closed the door and thought, ‘I built that’ we’ve also closed the door and thought, ‘Why the hell did I do this?’
As Sara McCorquodale, the CEO quoted in the article says, it does take time to find the right people, it does take time to find the right clients – and there will be plenty of days when you wonder if you’ve made the right choice.
That’s why organisations like TAB are so important. That’s why we have such an integral part to play in rebuilding the economy – and why our members are so crucial as role models to a new generation of entrepreneurs.
And now I’m going to change my identity. I’m going to finish this week back in the US. And I’m writing now not as the MD of TAB UK, but simply as Ed Reid. Husband, father and – I hope – reasonably good bloke.
In Macbeth, Malcolm tells the king about Cawdor’s execution.
…That very frankly he confessed his treason
Implor’d your Highness’ pardon, and set forth
A deep repentance. Nothing in his life
Became him like the leaving it
Perhaps Donald Trump could have kept that last line in mind this week. Sadly, he wrote his own epitaph. ‘Nothing in his life became him like the leaving of the Presidency.’ Land of the Free and, sadly, home of the churlish…
Sometimes – in business, in sport, in life – you win and sometimes you lose. When you lose you will occasionally feel hard done by. It happens to all of us. But we need to accept it with good grace, if only for our own mental health.
No wonder this speech has gone viral in the last seven days…