I’m the Fragile By-product of Both Parents Who Owned SMEs

Both my parents were founders and owners of SMEs. As a child, I remember all of the uncertainty we lived through like it was yesterday.

Nothing happens by accident. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing.

Both my parents were founders and owners of SMEs. As a child, I remember all of the uncertainty we lived through like it was yesterday. When things were good, money and opportunities were plentiful, holidays were exotic, the answer was always ‘yes’ to my childish questions, and Mum and Dad were always great to be around.

But we also experienced loss, tough times, failure and bankruptcy. I still have vivid memories of the bailiff at the front door. I was maybe 10, 11. We had an account at the local corner shop that allowed us to get groceries on the slate that we paid up at the end of the month. I didn’t understand so much of what they were going through but you got to know pretty quickly how to read the situation and then adjust your ask accordingly.

The feast and the famine. You don’t realise how much it marks you until someone asks you to articulate your ‘Why’.

As with everyone, my childhood experiences left me with some quirky hang ups. My anxiety rises with any of the following:

  • Seeing sauce at the bottom of empty jars and bottles. I hate wasting anything. I still squeeze every last drop from the toothpaste tube by cutting open the packet (much to my kids embarrassment)
  • An empty fridge. This triggers the feeling of shame felt during those times when we were living day-to-day when things were really tight
  • A ridiculous need to protect, help, provide for others – even when it’s completely out of place and people are more than capable of looking after themselves
  • The completely irrational fear that I’ll die alone, destitute and without loved ones, even though there’s never been any evidence that this is even a possibility

My parents were and are good people. Wonderful parents committed to providing for their family but worked long, long hours and were often distracted. But those times set me up well for the future. I magpied some wonderful traits along the way, encouraged by my parents, that are gifts that reveal themselves every day:

  • A strong work ethic. No matter what, you turn up for yourself, those who rely upon you and for those you’ve given your word
  • The understanding that small, disciplined habits done daily, move you towards big, seemingly impossible, goals, and you get to choose what those goals are
  • An ability to back oneself, even when it’s as dark as dark can be, because tomorrow could bring anything
  • An empathy for the underdog and that everyone has something to share, if you can take the time to show up, be interested and ask
  • The love of the hustle. The ability to see opportunities, solve problems, create and sell

So when someone asked me this week why I’d founded and built the business I had, my first answer wasn’t the true answer. ‘We help turn SME failure into growth’. I knew it was bullshit the moment the words left my mouth.

So how did I end up working in the very space that caused me so much angst as a child, that remains with me still? I have an innate understanding of those who go all out to put it on the line and then live with the consequences when and if it doesn’t work out, all from those same childhood experiences. I love working alongside these types of people and asking people to join our Team to do the same. I enjoy giving people who are brave enough to start and build SMEs hope for the future. Either up-front to help shine a light on a way forward, holding their hand on the daily path or handing them a hankie when the shit hits the fan. To work alongside the joy of success and the toil of the day-to-day. At times of feast and at times of famine.

Do I do it to clear the demons from my childhood? Possibly. But I’m no longer in any doubt that my profession chose me. Silly me for thinking anything different.

If you’re a fellow SME owner and need some assistance, we encourage you to reach out to us.

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