Nearly five years into Red Argyle, I’m still coming to understand how much brainpower it takes to run a small business. I struggle to balance operations, finances, and human resources with strategic and creative thinking, all while working to maintain–and, more importantly, teach others–my craft, which ultimately brings in the money to allow the whole thing to exist in the first place. It is very easy to get lost in the day-to-day with so many demands battling for your attention. In fact, it can become strangely comforting, knowing that my time can be consumed by Random each day.
That’s no typo. Random is a proper noun. It is a persona that deserves title casing because of its constant presence and influence. Random is necessary for business. Random sometimes becomes habit. Random can also become noise.
When running a small company, the challenges mentioned above (and myriad others that probably warrant their own blog posts) are necessary and important. They are a sign of progress and success. They are a sign that the company is growing and our work is becoming more sophisticated. Random supports our business by sharing conflicts to solve and compromises to make. Random gives us multiple deadlines, insurance filings, and contractor audits. Random breaks code that worked for years, sends unqualified leads, and delays air travel.
Sometimes, though, Random can overstep its bounds. It can paradoxically lull me into habit by the regular mental thrashings it subjects me to. It uses a prop called “the deadline” as an excuse for everything, which alters my work schedule (Random carries a watch with no numbers or hands), makes me miss going to the gym, and keeps me up at night. It makes people around me say strange things like “You’re working too hard” or “You should learn how to delegate better,” or “You should hire more people.”
When I’m lulled by Random, I struggle to work strategically and creatively. The lull of Random requires immense mental energy, as do strategic and creative thought. Too often, Random wins.
We all need to deal with Random and embrace that fact that its actions are a sign of success. We also need to cope with Random and understand that there are times to stop listening.