2 Legs Good, 8 Legs Bad

Me and this spider were sharing the shower this morning. Well, not exactly. The spider was there first but I encouraged it to leave before turning on the water. The spider is fine. It can get a shower later. I was in a hurry.

I don’t know where these spiders come from or where they go. Neither Helen nor I have ever worried about spiders in the house. They seem to turn up and then within a short time they are gone. However, a few months ago I was a bit put out when I felt something on my leg in the night (don’t go there!) and it turned out to be a spider. I asked it to leave and then went back to sleep.

However, while I was having the exchange with my spider friend in the shower this morning it set me thinking. If you are running a business and have been doing so for some time, is it possible for you to be scared of spiders? These small, harmless creatures who exist side by side with us cannot hurt us, they don’t bite or sting. If you run a business, surely meeting a spider during your day is probably the least of your problems. But are you actually scared of spiders?

If I am not scared of spiders, then it begs the question as to what or who am I scared of and why. Is fear the same thing? I was told, rightly or wrongly, many years ago that respect and fear are much the same. So who or what do I respect? Well, I respect wasps. They could cause me pain. I know they are all God’s creatures but if I cross paths with a wasp, it either has to exit my vicinity very quickly or die.

I respect people who are more intelligent than me, who have a quicker intellect. They can mentally run rings around me, potentially making me feel intimidated (and stupid?). Mind you they are maybe scared of spiders. Helen is like that. Where would I be without her? She also seems to have an uncanny ability to see through people and pick up things in other people that I miss. That’s maybe a woman thing.

I respect people who have built up significant businesses from scratch. That takes dedication, determination, and personal sacrifice. Probably the most successful businesspeople that I know left school without much in the way of qualifications. They grafted and took chances, sacrificing personal and family time to build something worthwhile. I have never asked any of them, but I doubt any of them are scared of spiders. Like spiders, they seem to have a natural ability but is this learned or inherited? I suppose the test is to look at progeny testing. What did their parent do and what have their children done? In many cases, they come from a line of entrepreneurs stretching back through the generations. So, is this learned or in the genes?

One that comes to mind immediately is Andrew Banks, who along with his late wife, Susan, built up Pentland Ferries which now operates a very successful ferry between Gills Bay and Orkney, and which now involves their children. No grants or subsidies,  but just sheer guts and determination.

Another is Sandy Mackenzie at Goodtread Tyres in Alness. This independent tyre company was established over 40 years ago and now as well as a thriving retail business also provides tyres wholesale to many of the garages in the Highlands. The retail arm includes a very successful garage business in Alness. Over the years the business has evolved, with online sales and an active mobile tyre fitting service. They will come to you to fit your new tyres. Sandy has now been joined by Mark Kelman so the story of Goodtread seems destined to go on for many more years to come and we look forward to seeing how it develops and grows and what new directions it may take. And as they say, “you always get a good deal at Goodtread”.

There are plenty of other examples of men and women who have, in their own small way, built up a meaningful business.

Spiders don’t work a 35 hour week and they keep spidering until they drop, or get eaten! I see that with many people in business. They know that, however long they have been in business, every day is a school day and that when others talk about slowing down and coasting towards (early) retirement, they are just getting to the top of their game with so much still to give. I heard of a CEO of a large company who the owners described as just getting good, and she was 94. They say that age is just a number. It is not the hours on the clock. It is the mental attitude that counts.

I have heard it said of people like this that they are just scared of retiring, that they would not know what to do with themselves if they stopped working. I think it says more about the people saying these things. Why would you want to trash all that ability and experience that can still be channelled into something good and worthwhile?

Love what you do and keep doing it for as long as makes sense to you. You are the master of your own ship so, whatever your age or background, you can chart your own course. And like a ship, leave a wake behind you for others to try to follow. In your own way, let your efforts inspire others to greater things.

If you want to carry on this discussion but you are not sure where to find us, please chick here.

Alan E Long

The Long Partnership

07770 738770



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