For the past six months the Federation of Small Businesses have been holding monthly networking breakfasts in the serene cafeteria facilities at IKEA Reading. Running a small business can be a lonely place.
The romantic side of us can admire those who have shunned the nine-to-five treadmill of corporate life to pursue their dream, whatever field it may be. The realist side see’s the stress and strain of balance sheets, winning new business, employing staff and negotiating the minefield that is tax.
Watching the faces of those who come through the door for the IKEA networking breakfast you can largely tell how well established their business is. You have the fresh faced start-ups who are still spending most of their time doing what it is they are interested in, nervously hoping they can survive the usual new business hurdles. Next you have those who are 5 - 7 years in. They are invariably tired and if asked, would estimate they spend approximately 15% of their time doing what they originally loved about being self-employed. The rest of their time is spent doing paper work, winning business, managing staff, filing tax returns and doing more paper work.
Finally you have those who have made it out the other end. Their businesses are established enough for them to worry less about where business is coming from and how bills are going to get paid. They are still hands on, but are seasoned enough to have delegated the bits about running a business that they don’t like, so they can focus on the bits they do enjoy.
And what each of these three groups have in common is that wherever they are on the scale there is a sense of comradery. An obligation to listen, support, encourage and share wisdom, because after all, they are in the same boat.
The networking takes place on the last Friday of every month at 7.45am - 9.00am. Next week is good Friday so the next one will be on April 27th.