Not As Alright As I Thought

When I was younger, one of the things that used to always course through my brain was a rather trusting refrain, “it’ll be alright eventually”.

For some odd reason, I did trust in my own ability. I had total faith that no matter, in the end, my skills and talents would come through, and I would be able to succeed in life almost by default.

Maybe I misunderstood what was around me. For years in school, exam season after exam season came and went, with more and more success. High grades, rising class position, great GCSEs, great A-Levels… it just kept going again and again, and I thought I must have already been doing something right, and therefore all I needed to do was carry on.

When you reach Real Life though, you realise that the correlation of a successful life with good qualification is not very strong at all. Sure, it helps, but far more important are the connections you have, either already garnered, or through your family.

My connections have not been particularly helpful for me. The classic case of a working-class background, a family with no opportunities to get a leg-up from friends and relatives. And yet, the more I do business, the more I realise that connections are what make the world turn.

If I went through my client list, I’d probably be able to attribute at least half of the turnover to connections. But not in the sense that they came from connections in the first place, but more because I had the good fortune to get one customer through normal means (advertising) and then beyond that point it led to many recommendations into numerous different home and business customers. One such connection, starting with a £30 PC repair, gained from an advert in the paper, has since turned into many thousands of pounds of profit. All because that customer just so happened to be in the position to make a business decision to use me in the private school he runs.

Life is life that. A series of connections and co-incidences. They can go in your favour, and sometimes they won’t. When they happen, you have to smile and breathe a sigh of relief. It just went your way. But when they don’t, it’s extraordinarily frustrating. You then might even start to rail about the unfairness of the world, and how if only it was all about talent, experience and price, you would be winning every time, and that would be just perfect.

How naive. We may all want the world to be fair, but it never will be. We are humans. We like shortcuts. We are social, and value the recommendations and input of other people, especially if they’re people we trust implicitly.

I’m getting there. I’m earning lots of connections, many of which I’m starting to use for my own life. And who knows when they’ll be useful to a much greater than they currently are. Maybe when I own my own house, and I’m desperate for someone to help with dodgy guttering…

Bumping Along

It says a lot that I haven’t had to write much about business in quite a while. I remember writing a good several months ago that, since business was developing nicely, I would no longer write about it, because I felt like I was just saying the same thing over and over again.

But perhaps now I can break that vow. The past few weeks have been… disappointing at best. I sort of hinted at it last time, when I was writing about a leafletting anecdote, but business has been poor.

Of course, poor is a relative term. In comparison to when I first started and ran this business back in my home city, it’s still a success. Back then it really was a disaster. Lucky if I got one job a week. Now one job a week would be a tragedy: largely because success requires a much higher amount of work, and also because of the far more immediate pressures I have in terms of bills to pay.

It’s hard to pin it down. And that makes it even more frustrating. At least in the past when business was poor I could make up an excuse. Back home it was because I did almost no promotional work. Here when it was quiet it was because I hadn’t done enough to establish myself.

But now? I have had hundreds of customers. Word of mouth generation is excellent. My name is out there. My site ranks well in Google. I have an advert in a shop window on a high street. I have an advert in a local newspaper. How could it all suddenly dry up?

So you start thinking more obscure. Maybe all that good weather lately has made people stop using their computers?! Maybe they’re all out gardening. Or perhaps the anti-virus program makers are winning the war at the moment…

It does make me think how sustainable this can be in the long run though. When people are increasingly moving onto platforms that are non-fixable. Smartphones can’t be fixed in any meaningful or cheap way. Laptops are designed to fail, and when they do they go pop and cost a small fortune to fix, so much so that you might as well put that towards a new one.

And then there’s the other side of the coin. The better I do my job, in terms of providing people with the tools and tuition to help themselves, the less they need me. I suppose it’s true in any service industry, though it is counteracted if the market is wide enough to bring in enough customers through wear-and-tear, entropy faults…

So – a little depressing right now. Maybe it’ll all go away, and I’ll be happy again.

But still:  I can’t do this forever. I want to do so much more…