I was in a football ground last week. It is only the 5th time that I have ever done that. I was in the board room at Manchester United, attending a tax course. I was in Inverness Caley Thistle and Ross County, both Chamber of Commerce events, and we did the tour at Rangers because one of the boys was a big Rangers fan. So, no football. Last Friday I added to my tally by visiting Elgin City Football Club where I was standing in for Cathel at the weekly meeting of BNI Moray.

I think that many organisations suffered over the pandemic. Meetings on Zoom are fine, but they are nothing like meetings face to face, toe to toe, kneecap to kneecap. They just aren’t. You may choose to disagree. That is fine, but you will never change my mind.

One of the problems with transitioning onto Zoom at the start of the pandemic was that at some point you must transition back, and I think that there are a significant number of people who for one reason or another are happier not having to actually go to a physical meeting.  Now, I have no issue with that but it does mean that in the transition back to normality, many organisations will have seen a drop in numbers.

We saw this at the BNI Highland meetings in Inverness and I think they have seen the same at BNI in Moray. When I was at the meeting in Elgin, it was clear that numbers were down but there was so much energy in the room that I cannot imagine that numbers will be at this level for very long.

In my mind, the purpose of BNI is to build relationships and by doing so, get work. Plain and simple. We are there for the introductions that fellow members make for us and the business that we generate from those introductions. If you want to grow your business, BNI is certainly the place to be. But each chapter only has one of each trade or profession so if you are an accountant, don’t bother applying. We occupy that chair. However, there are plenty of spare categories if you have the hunger.

You know, this reminds me of a phrase that I heard many years ago and is so true – “The only constant is change”. Nothing and nobody stands still for long and if you are not growing, you are probably heading in the opposite direction, perhaps slowly just now, but as everything changes around you, are you slowly but surely being left behind?

I must admit I like to see people and businesses developing and growing. I think it is healthy. However, there seem to be a lot of posts on LinkedIn about being happy with what you have and focusing on family and the moment. I have no issue with that but it is not, and never has been me. We have grown our business, but we will never, in our time, be listed in the biggest firms in the UK, nice though that might have been.

If you run a business, you have responsibilities. People depend upon you. If you are one of our clients then you rely on us doing your accounts, tax etc. and keeping your tax to the legal minimum. Then there are all the people who work for us who rely on us to pay them every month, so that they can achieve their own personal goals. Also, there are our families who needed the security that a profitable business can provide. It is very little about us and more about all the people who place their faith in us. Quite a responsibility.

So, if we do not make a success of our business, who suffers? If it was just Helen and myself, we could decide to work or not when we felt like it. No salaries to pay, minimal overheads and we could indeed focus on family and enjoying the moment. Instead, we chose to juggle our time and find a compromise that hopefully worked for everyone. That was our judgement call, and we made it.

I had an interesting conversation with someone recently. What it came down to was whether work was a chore that you had to perform to get where you wanted to be. I have never (I don’t think) ever approached business in that way. I enjoy what I do. I get a real buzz from what I do. I am happy doing what I do. That does not mean that every day is a bed of roses, far from it, but I am not working so that I can be happy in the future. I am happy now.

There is a quote by Cervantes- The road is better that the inn. In other words, enjoy the journey and be happy now. I also heard an alternative explanation for this quote, namely that however uncomfortable the coach may be, however rough the road, you were more likely to be robbed or catch something nasty or get food poisoning while staying overnight at an inn. Not sure that applies these days to a Travelodge!

There is another – The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. So, today I will be in Dingwall meeting with a big new client, then to our office in Inverness and then on to our new office in Elgin where I am interviewing this afternoon. Just a few steps along our long journey but I would not want to be anywhere else.

What will be your next steps along your journey today? Enjoy the journey every step of the way!

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Alan E Long

The Long Partnership

07770 738770



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