The road to Hell, they say, is paved with good intentions.
I start every working day by mentally organising what I need to be doing with my time - including ascribing a 'priority level' to each task. Impressively this is usually all done in the shower (steady ladies!) while I absently listen to the radio. Over the sound of the water I can often also hear the shouting, screaming, laughter, chuckling and singing that normally accompanies my two children being herded into their clothes by my wife.
Very often I'll transfer this mental 'To Do' list onto paper before I start work - it makes me feel good. It makes me feel 'organised' and 'efficient' - which is good.
By 10.00am my orderly, planned and regimented day has gone straight to Hell in a handcart.
My day, it seems, is very much an example of the second law of thermodynamics: Entropy increases. Entropy in this case being the tendency of all ordered things to revert to a state of chaos.
In a similar vein it's just astounding how long it takes to get a small business off the ground. You start off thinking that you'll be up and running within a couple of days. You just need to get a few things, make a phone call or two and boom, you'll be in business.
Not so - no siree.
There's branding, there's business stationary, there's finance, buying equipment, regulations to meet, legal requirements, advertising, marketing strategies, profit & loss forecasts, networking, meetings, blogs, business planning, premises, insurance... The list goes on and on and on.
It can be a little disheartening. At worst it can make you wonder why on Earth you started this whole thing in the first place when you could have easily got another job doing precisely the thing that you hated before you decided to start your own business.
But in the end you know it's going to worth it - so you keep going. Past the limits you thought you could never exceed; doing things that once would have seemed impossible.
So this whole thing boils down to two pieces of advice to bear in mind when you start your own business. Just two. Keep them in mind and it might save you a lot of headaches &/or heartaches:
1) It ALWAYS takes much longer than you think
2) It ALWAYS takes a lot more money than you thought.
But, I also learnt 2 things from the lovely bunch of guys I met last night, each one struggling to set up a successful enterprise just after the deepest recession in over 70 years:
1) You are not alone.
2) Sometimes other people have a lot more faith in you than you do in yourself.
But I do wish I had more time :-)