The Frank Sinatra guide to running a small business

Frank Sinatra 1973

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The local councillor who couldn’t help me might have been a local version of one of those politicians who think it is sufficient to reach high office and do not have a vision or a plan to do anything when they get there.

Perhaps I am being unkind, but I could list you three British Prime Ministers in office in the last fifty years who thought being Prime Minister was in itself sufficient for their egos, and another three who really thought they could change things for the better. I am not going to list these PMs because I do not wish for a political debate, but they are not all on the same side of the political fence. We have had some who just liked being PM, and others who tried to get on with what they believed they should be doing.

I have been working with small businesses in one way or another throughout what one might grandly call my career, and until the last recession it was probably only the seriously entrepreneurial types who started new businesses. There were others who inherited the family business of course.

Going back a few years, I came across people who had built vast empires from nothing or from cheekily borrowing large amounts of money on a promise or on conviction which they had conveyed to the lender. So I knew people who started engineering businesses with almost no money, and aristocrats who had inherited money but really knew how to run a hands-on business themselves. There is a certain talent needed whatever your background, which is to think on your feet and to know about people. It is not easily taught, but can be learned.

People these days often try to start businesses because they cannot get a job and need some income, but it takes a bit more than that to make it work.

So, going back to the Prime Ministers, it is not sufficient to be in charge of a business. Just having one is not enough, because unless it is actively managed, it will fail as the three PMs failed their country. To be in business is to do because if you don’t do, you won’t be in business. It’s the truth, and many who think it is enough to put up a sign (or a website) will fail.

Kurt Vonnegut (great for good quotes) joked

“To be is to do”–Socrates.
“To do is to be”– Sartre.
“Do be do be do”–Frank Sinatra.

To be in business we need to do and keep doing it. Don’t we?


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