The Best Things in Life Take Time. Even in Start Up Business.

As a small business owner, the end of every financial year comes with a moment of self-reflection. This year it happened somewhere between my third night straight working through financial reconciliations and the multiple glasses of wine I was simultaneously consuming as a means of taking the pain out of tax time.

As I hit “reconcile” and waited to see if I’d managed to prepare my tax information accurately for my accountant (please universe help me because she is a very expensive resource), I was reflecting that in today’s fast-paced world, it seems there’s two types of start-ups.

The first are the rare Unicorns who at launch, explode out of the gates at warp speed, often with millions of dollars in venture capital funding and the wind pushing hard against their backs - resources, momentum, free publicity, new customers and off the chart year-on-year growth.

The second type are the silent majority; that is, every other start up and small business. Active Creatures included. Every day is a beautiful grind, a lesson in character building where one must take on all of the roles and all of the responsibilities in order to keep the business afloat, while all the time hustling, persisting and pushing for growth. It’s not fast, it’s rarely glamorous and it is most often a labour of love, propelled on by the deep-seated belief that in time, goals will be realised.

And as if this wasn’t lesson-enough in resilience, often there’s people around me - or people I come across in day-to-day life - who upon hearing that I have a small business, love to tell me excitedly about their mate who had a business, but it tanked. Or their mate who has a business and it’s smashing it out of the park in a very short amount of time.

Either way, it’s not particularly helpful. And I think the reason why is because to go into business in the first place, means that you have an expectation of what you can achieve. And often you self-impose a timeframe in which you’ll have accomplished these goals. And as I know from my own experience, when it didn’t happen in my defined timeframe, it was demoralising. 

But I was reminded last week that the biggest accomplishments in our lives rarely happen overnight. Most of us take years to learn a new discipline, perfect a musical instrument, achieve a senior position in our career, build the body we want, achieve financial security... the list goes on.

Rather than becoming demoralised by the timeframe it takes to grow a start up, I think embracing the experience is when the magic happens. Since launching Active Creatures five years ago with my business partner and husband Cameron, we’ve grown so incredibly close as a result of experiencing this crazy ride together. We’ve travelled the world with our business, met so many incredible people who have guided and helped us and importantly, we’ve learnt a sh*t load about money and managing cashflow.

The lessons have been painful and emotionally-taxing at times, yet flip the coin and we’ve experienced moments that can only be descried as exhilarating and breath-taking.

Would I recommend small business to everybody? No way.

I think you have to be so incredibly resilient to go into small business because if you’re not going to be a Unicorn, you’ll need to be ok with the fact that the stats are stacked against you and you may fail. Or more glass-half-full, maybe you’ll be the overnight success story that took 10 years to make it so.

As we head into Financial Year 2019/20, I’ve thrown out my pre-conceived definition of what Active Creatures’ success has to be. This is my beautiful grind and my journey through experiences not yet known. With one tax year out of the way and a new one now beginning, I reckon that’s worth raising a glass to.

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