A leader’s mindset

A small business owner I know is fed up. He’s busy, stressed and feeling the relentless pressure of being the manager-leader-CEO-strategist-operations guy. His 80-100 hours each week are taking their toll in year two of this business.

I’m happy to be a shoulder to cry on, but if you’re opening up then you can expect honest productive feedback in return. Here was (most of) my response:

1- Initially it’s all a question of optics. Realise it’s your choice and you can frame it in the positive or negative. This isn’t North Korea, no-one handcuffs you in the morning and drags you into work. Remember that you decided to take the brave step to entrepreneurship and not answer to others (although we all answer to customers and staff, whether we like it or not).

2- Be flattered that they’re lining up for you – most businesses would love that problem. The winner’s trophy is heavy to lift, boo hoo. Too busy is the best problem you can have, appreciate the situation and realise this is an opportunity you’ve created for yourself – bravo to you.

3- Know that really good service is a rare thing. With service comes loyalty, word of mouth and repeat business. You have the chance to carve that reputation for yourself.

4- Leadership can be lonely and gruelling. It’s so easy to point upwards in an organisation and be envious of the ‘big cheese’ but that seat is seldom a joyous one. It’s fraught with anxiety, doubt and questions as you become your own sounding board and internalise the multitude of issues you deal with every day. Suck. It. Up.

Going forward:
A) Price elasticity can stop you being a busy fool. Charge a bit more and see how that affects trade. You can always adjust on that learning but you might be able to maintain turnover whilst decreasing hours.

B) Get your game plan together. 5 and 10 years is great for chatting with the bank manager, but what’s realistic in the medium term of 1-2 years away? Really break this down into tactical sections and pragmatic tasks.

C) Read Gordon Ramsay’s Playing with Fire and see how success can be achieved via hard bloody work.

D) Remind yourself that it’s called work for a reason. Most haven’t got the balls to do it, let alone lead.


Thomas Edison said, Opportunity is missed by most people because it comes dressed in overalls and looks like work.

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