It's 2:00 a.m. and you're up pacing the floor, mind racing with thoughts of this, that and the other thing. You can't sleep, there's far too much going on in the business to sleep! You have orders to fill, or clients to call, or blog posts to write, or any number of other things that keep popping into your head like little soap bubbles... clinging, the way soap does, to your brain cells, preventing you from sleeping.
Does pacing help? Does braving the still, cold night... disturbing the cat despite your best efforts to be quiet... work? Are you now in control of those nagging thoughts or...are they just multiplying, even as you struggle to tame them?
Being a small business owner is hard. Yes, it is! Generally, if it's your business, you're in charge and regardless of how many employees you have, or contract workers, or even volunteers... the buck stops with you and if orders don't go out, or if they're mangled somehow, or if someone on staff has words with a client or if orders are down this month and payroll is up and... you get the drift. IF anything happens that causes angst, it's your fault, it's your responsiblity, and you'd better fix it!
At any given time, that's me... above. I'm stumbling along as best I can. I remind myself of the words of a favorite song from long ago, "I never promised you a rose garden." No one ever promised me a rose garden. Not even a lawn full of dandelions, which I think is better than nothing. In reality, the world doesn't owe me anything. But, I owe... I owe myself and my staff... someone who can take charge and who is forward thinking.
To that end, I don't mind the occasional night pacing the floor. Truth is, I seldom pace. I brave the cold of the night air to come down and play on the computer. Sometimes I read blog posts I haven't had time to read. Sometimes I look at cute cat pictures (awww.... look at that one!). Sometimes I scroll through Facebook and reacquaint myself with my family. And, after a few minutes (can be 10, can be 30, seldom more than that), I'm refreshed, I feel better, and I go back to bed. To sleep.
Small businesses stumble along on a daily basis, from time to time. There is no right way to grow, and no wrong way to make progress. Your best bet is to tap into the talent at your fingertips (your own and that of your employees or whomever is in this with you). Don't be afraid to ask for advice (I have relied on my mentor, Bruce Peters, more times than I can remember!). Don't be afraid to say, "I don't know." What you don't know can inspire you to learn something new, and come back with better answers, better suggestions, better results.
Even the best sprinter stumbles now and then. Even the most successful business person can tell you horror stories of business deals gone bad, at one time or another. Even the strongest supporter can admit moments of doubt. In the end, being human means ... stumbling right along, as you go.
The most important thing to remember is... that stumbling can force balance. It moves you forward. Even if you fall, getting back up, brushing off the dirt, prepares you for the next time... and shows the world you won't be defeated.
Here I am, stumbling right along... at this moment. Tomorrow, I'll be sailing along, because I kept going, because I made it my job to learn something from the events that led to my stumble.