From time to time when I’m writing this blog I pop a search term into Google.
Workers want to stay home after lockdown, for example. 71,000,000 hits.
Companies struggling post lockdown – just the 11m.
Sometimes a search returns 200m or 300m hits. I’m impressed. I take it as evidence that whatever I’m writing about is on the right lines.
I’ve just typed another one in now. Actually, I’ve typed it in twice, because I didn’t believe the number. I paused, to count the commas.
Why don’t I do what I know I should do?
And it goes right to the heart of The Alternative Board.
The question and the responses are variously framed on Google. ‘Why you can’t do what you know you need to.’ ‘Why don’t we do what we should be doing?’ ‘Why we know, but don’t do.’
I remember the first time I had the conversation.
You know what, Ed? I know everything there is to know about making and selling widgets. If someone came to me and said, ‘Will you show me how to build a widget company? To a profit of X thousand in five years?’ I’d know exactly what to do. I could lay out the steps. One by one. So why don’t I take those steps myself?
It’s a staggeringly simple question. Whether it’s our health, our relationship or our business, there isn’t a person reading this blog who hasn’t looked in the mirror and thought, ‘I know what to do. So why am I not doing it?’
As some of you know, I’m on holiday. I’m writing the blog in Cornwall, looking out over the sea. The news doesn’t make for happy reading. The furlough scheme is starting to unwind. 80% of workers want to carry on working from home.
Twenty per cent of small businesses expect their performance to be ‘much worse’ over the next three months. A record 75% of SMEs said that profits fell in the last three months, up 33% compared to the same quarter in 2019.
The rate of insolvencies has slowed since March, but the Institute of Fiscal Studies is suggesting that many ‘zombie companies’ are only being kept afloat by loans and grants. One firm of accountants has said that a record 527,000 businesses were in financial distress at the end of June.
Entrepreneurs are facing challenges not that they have never faced before – but that they have never even imagined.
And yet I am optimistic. And no, it isn’t the Cornish sun, or the Tribute.
Now, more than ever, doing what we know we should do is going to be essential. Treating ourselves like someone we care about – someone we’re responsible for helping – is going to be vital to our health, our relationships and our businesses.
If that last sentence – treating ourselves likes someone we care about – sounds vaguely familiar it’s because it’s one of the ‘12 Rules’ in Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life.
It’s a book that I’m reading on holiday and, while Jordan Peterson might not be everyone’s cup of tea, that second rule – Treat Yourself Like Someone you are Responsible for Helping – goes straight to the heart of what entrepreneurs need to do right now.
It also sums up The Alternative Board. Make no mistake, your colleagues round the TAB table do care about you. They will treat you like someone they’re responsible for. And you’ll do the same in return.
‘Do what you know you should do’ can be a big step for an individual: no wonder there are 5 billion search results. Facing up to these unprecedented challenges is a big step for an entrepreneur. We are all going to need to change: we’re all going to need new ideas.
But that is simply a day’s work for a TAB board.
That’s why I’m optimistic. Because if you could design one structure to get you through tough times – to absolutely make sure we do what we know we should do – it would be The Alternative Board.
Enough writing for one holiday. I’m going to sit in the sun. I’m going to drink another bottle of Tribute.
I might read chapter 3 as well – Make Friends with People who want the Best for You.
Now what does that remind me of?
No wonder I’m going to come back to the office with more belief, optimism and enthusiasm than I’ve ever had before.