Why we need to be realistic about our business ambitions

Not quite Green Gables

“We pay a price for everything we get or take in this world; and although ambitions are well worth having, they are not to be cheaply won, but exact their dues of work and self-denial, anxiety and discouragement.”

LUCY MAUD MONTGOMERY, Anne of Green Gables

Or, as we might say, there is no such thing as a free lunch.


Lucy Maud’s comment really sounds like a bit of a downer, but it is always realistic to expect that our best-laid plans might not work out every time. However well we plan we are bound to have set backs now and again. They will be discouraging, but we can learn and adapt.

Many of us have a little free time at the moment, just before the New Year. Perhaps we have already made plans for our business for the coming year, and of course it is foolish not to plan ahead. I think it is worth looking back and remembering what did not work out in the last twelve months, and what we might have done differently. Was there anything which worked quite well but could be improved?

I cannot give you all the answers because I don’t know your business. If you asked me in help you, it would be for me to encourage you to answer your own questions. Of course I could connect you with some very good people to provide you with services you may require.

Do make those plans. If you need help, ask someone you can trust. Don’t just let it ride. You know the cliché.


In my long business experience (does that make me sound old?) I have seen business owners ride rough-shod over their employees, exploiting them, not considering their feelings and disposing of them when they are no longer needed. One problem we have had in more recent years is where large businesses get permission to open stores such as “local” supermarkets in high streets and along the main drag. These stores damage small retailers badly and indeed can put them out of business. The large corporates do it because they can. Their overheads and stock costs are lower and they can employ part-time workers at low cost. You may have one of those businesses which is damaged or destroyed by this. If you do, you need to adapt, because there is no point in expecting compassion from big business.

However, one advantage we do have in running a small business is that we can be in tune with what our customers need. Perhaps compassion should not be our first thought, because we have to make a living. Just the same we can empathise.

I am not saying that compassion should not play a part in our lives. We should always try to help those in need, whether it be our employees who may be struggling, or our friends, or someone in the street, or those in lands far distant. Perhaps we can even do it without huge financial cost. Often it is our time which is valuable. Sometimes in helping others we help ourselves by boosting our creativity.

Grasping the nettle

The economy is really tough, whether you are reading this in Europe or in much of North America. We need more than usual to plan carefully for next year’s business. We need to have new projects and ideas. We need to be careful not to waste money on ploys that didn’t work last year. We need to remember to listen to our employees who are in this with us. We do need to consider those less fortunate than we, and to help them. We need to step outside our comfort zone. We need to be brave, don’t we?


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