Did you miss the boat?

Don’t rue your luck

Nr. St. Brelade, Jersey

Recently I have witnessed people publicly regretting that they did not manage to create a worldwide on-line network before Facebook appeared. Why didn’t their big idea grow the way Facebook did? The fact is that hard though they worked, and entrepreneurial though they were, Messrs Zuckerberg and co were very lucky in simply being in the right place at the right time. The right time was neither before they planted the seeds or afterwards, but exactly at the time they happened to start. That’s life.

Others may think “should we have sought venture capital rather than going alone? Should we have asked for support from this media person or that?” It doesn’t matter. The time has gone. We need to deal with the present.

We all make “mistakes” in our working lives. Sometimes we can benefit from them and learn. Just over ten years ago I left a comfortable but boring job with a large accountancy firm to go for what looked like a more interesting opportunity with a niche consultancy. I was warned against it by my then boss. “You will regret it” I was told. “They don’t treat their staff with respect.”

Being fired

Of course I didn’t pay attention. I took the new job. Thirteen months later I was given fifteen minutes to clear my desk when I had been under the impression that I was giving a presentation on the firm’s latest ideas to an invited audience in Jersey the following week. I had been puzzled that my flight and hotel accommodation had not been confirmed.

No regrets

My departure from that firm cast me into the world of self-employment. Do I regret joining that consultancy? No, it was the right decision at the time. I enjoyed the work hugely in that thirteen months. It boosted my confidence. I realised that I was very good at what I did, which I had begun to doubt having been starved of quality work at my previous employer.

We cannot dwell on what might have been. As independent business people the future is more in our hands. We may think sometimes “suppose I had accepted this offer or gone for that contract”. Such thoughts are a distraction and no more useful than wondering about how our lives might have been had we stayed with a past girlfriend or boyfriend.

Our past experience is how we learn to plan the future of our business. We just keep getting back in the saddle, and as business owners, at least the horse belongs to us.

Don’t look back. Does this ring a bell with you?

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