And so our first trading year draws to a close. Our calendar fiscal means we get to package our first 12 months up neatly, and to seize the moment to reflect and plan alike, just like we do beyond the office. There’s something clarifying for sure about the ‘reset’ that will come every year for us on 1/1.
But like any start-up, it’s difficult to be absolutely sure how we are doing. A start-up’s fortunes rise or fall according to its efforts, rather than the tide of the market. If it is trying to do something different (as most are), then the market’s metrics may not be right. It must assess its performance coolly and dispassionately, despite the regular switchback ride from ‘glass half full’ to ‘glass half empty’ that it necessarily experiences as a small business.
That said, ‘5 men and a multiplug’ (aka our Enid Blyton period) are now a staff of 25. The work we are doing seems to be working, which is what really oils the wheels (if you like flying barbecues, you’ll love this).
And our progress can be measured not just by the small profit turned this year but by our growing resemblance to a grown-up company thanks to small increments of professionalisation: a fully stocked stationery cupboard here, a shiny new appraisal system there.
Central heating, however, has proved more elusive these last few weeks, to the extent that any working radiator has instantly – and somewhat contrarily -become the new office water-cooler. Secret Santa’s gift for our receptionist? A hot water bottle, marked for office use only. And so our self-image as Spartans who toil against the odds remains intact. (We’ll turn it on next year.)
Perhaps the year end has come just in time: the last few weeks have not been kind to me socially. Congratulating an eccentrically moustachioed client on his plucky participation in the ‘Movember’ fundraiser, only to be met with a blank look. Sashaying into a new business meeting with a vintage briefcase containing our presentation materials, only to find I couldn’t open it. (My 45 minute struggle to spring the lock – both above and below client sightlines – was manful. That man? Basil Fawlty.)
Still, it’s nothing a little WD40 can’t solve, and you can’t say that about many management challenges.