We were just gearing up for Friday’s Short Story Slam final when we received the startling news that Chalk the Sun has been short-listed in another competitive event – the South London Business Awards. We are up for Best New Business 2012 and have to face a grilling by the judge next week. Are we out of our comfort zone or what? Of course, we can write a cogent application, edit marketing materials, create an engaging advertorial but are we really business women, are we composed of the stuff from which entrepreneurs are made?
For the last week my dreams have been haunted by shouty Alan Sugar type men in suits pointing accusing fingers and demanding details of our five-year plans and R.O.I. ratios. I toss and turn, balance sheets swimming before my eyes in a jumble of numbers. I wake sweating, muttering deliriously about pricing strategies and discounting policies. But should I be that terrified of the business world? Writing, like running a small business, can be lonely, devoid of office hi-jinks and water-cooler gossip. A writer has to be decisive and unsentimental about their work, ‘drowning their babies’ – cutting out their favourite bits – if they aren’t working, so does an entrepreneur. Creative writing requires self-belief, imagination, originality, thinking outside the box, a clear vision, and so does making a success of a new business.
We know our strengths and weaknesses and financial acumen, organisational systems and long-term planning definitely fall under the latter heading. But, according to business dogma, weaknesses can be transformed into opportunities and that’s exactly what we have to do.
Knowing one’s weaknesses is half the battle and we are painfully aware of ours but that’s not necessarily a bad place to be when your business has only had a proper bank account, website and corporate status for five months. So now we are galvanised into action and for once we are prioritising our accounting systems instead of identifying a hilarious piece of cross-purposes dialogue, completing our data base instead of finding punctuation howlers and setting up a drop box instead of reading Professor Lodge’s latest essay on concretisation. We are thinking positively and visualising our Sugaresque judge proclaiming ‘You’re Inspired!’ nor ‘You’re fired!’
Now all we have to do is dry-clean our evening gowns, dig out the water-proof mascara and start composing one of those speeches in which we thank everyone from the Balham Bowls Club bar staff to our web designer at Southerly Comms. Watch this space.