A recent opportunity to help a friend set up a small e-tail business to fund his forced retirement seemed too good to pass up. The company I have spent most of my working years at is stuck in the middle ground, suffocated by the inflexibility and bureaucracy of a big company but lacking the capital and influence
to join the corporate set.
I planned to take a sabbatical to assist with developing this small business, but the
penpushers couldn't fathom the concept and decided
it would be easier to put it down to an extended sick leave so that the 'system' could cope. Needless to say, an automated email went out to everyone on my contacts list declaring a leave of absence due to
ill health, thus provoking a barrage of calls from concerned clients and colleagues. Well, I say a barrage — it was three calls over two weeks, and one had accidentally dialled my number and offered their sympathies to save face. One also
wanted to check on an overdue payment
at the same time, but I'm still counting it.
It was presumed that, as the youngest person involved in the new company, and the only smartphone user, I should be in charge of building the website. I tried to protest that web design and PCB design, my normal role, were very different and to some extent mutually exclusive. Nonetheless I took up the chalice of 'webmaster' and set to work, reckoning it would be simple. After all,
small business was all about market stalls and tax evasion, I foolishly thought.
To put my following statements into context, it should be noted that I have survived active service for king and
country, coped with company-funded activity days, and have even watched an entire episode of Britain's
Got Talent at my daughter's
behest. But never before
have I been pushed so far
out of my comfort zone as
when setting up an e-tail website.
I simply could not deal with stroppy graphic designers, arrogant programmers, useless service companies, indecisive co-workers and, worst of all, bone-idle journalists. Building up a website with international credit card capabilities and promoting it through all available channels has proved to be my Everest, and, metaphorically speaking, I had failed to pack my anti-altitude sickness medication.
I now have the greatest respect for all those who have successfully
built a web-based business from dot, but next time anyone asks me to
get involved in such a project I will be leaving them to do it themselves, because I'm on sick leave.
Our entrepreneurial correspondent travels the world in search of business, soft beds and good breakfasts.
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