The business I operate today is a lot smaller than the one I used to run. I am by nature a worrier. I worry about things like letting other folk down, I worry about cash and being able to settle bills, I am a risk taker who worries about risk. A pal of mine once said it was fear that got him out of bed in a morning. That made me sad, but it might be true for many on occasions.
I have had my low points and know only too well how stress affects me. Dark moments and the feelings I get, in my head and worse in my stomach. I have been through times when I found it very difficult to sleep and on many occasions I have woken in bed soaking wet with sweat, a pool of water on my chest - had to get up – towel off – put a fresh towel down to sleep on and we washed the sheets the following day. We used to refer to my business then as – “riding the bear”
For a time when my business was struggling, I used to look forward to Saturdays as the break at the end of the week and then hate Sundays as I neared the beginning of the next. It was horrible, would that promised payment come in, could I then pay the wages and suppliers, I was worried what might happen and felt totally alone.
When I was younger my father had a friend, who was a successful businessman and farmer, Earl Longthorp was his name, sadly no longer with us, he lived near Howden. He and his family are entrepreneurs – indeed his Granddaughter created Anna’s Happy Trotters, - they make great sausages. Earl once said to me when I was too young to understand “you know the loneliest time of the day is 4am in the morning, your mind has a tunnel vision and cannot properly view your problems in context. All you see is an unsolvable fog.”
It was only later when I had all the responsibility for my many staff and workforce, suppliers and customers and went through those sometime sleepless nights or worse the waking up soaking that I realised the truth behind what he’d told me.
Running your business can be very lonely and extremely stressful. Back then there was nothing like FEO. I wish there had been such a group, FEO is something that could be described as a family, all members there at the end of a phone, or video call away, or until the COVID-19 lockdown, available to meet for a coffee or beer.
And you know something, thinking of those awful Sundays – the Monday morning was never as bad as I imagined it would be on the Sunday night. That’s the problem, our minds play games with us. They can be our best friend or our worst enemy. Another mind and voice brings the logical thinking and shuts up our inner chimp.
Today I worry less, I have a great team around me, but I will never forget the lesson I learned.
The quickest and best fix – is to talk, talk to the right people, our FEO has other entrepreneurs in abundance all navigating their paths and in among us always lie the answers to your current worry. I hope my little tale might help those of you worrying about the current COVID-19 situation.
Use the phone or Zoom or hopefully not to long from now the opportunity of a coffee or beer – TALK and sleep better - we’re all in this together.
Andrew N Horncastle