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a blog by Chris Barrow

Grumpy Old Man celebrates birthday with Grumpy Young Man!

It’s my 53rd birthday today – and as part of my celebrations I popped in to see my hairdresser yesterday for a post-holiday scalping. I’ve written and spoken about Ross Jackson before – impressed that he had the courage to buy a Tony & Guy franchise (in Falmouth) at the age of 22 (with a family loan) and fascinated that the franchise-prototype has enabled this bright young man to build a succesful business around himself with zero practical knowledge or life experience. He is now 24 years old he and his wife Soraya (front of house) operate one of the most successful salons in the South West of England. I call him “Jamie Oliver” because in looks and mannerisms he is so like the famous chef. As we chatted he mentioned that:

  1. he feels very lonely in charge of the business and has few friends or colleagues that he can discuss his fears with;

  2. he often feels that, in order to relax, he drinks too much;

  3. he isn’t doing enough to keep himself fit – the training and surfing have gone down the pan since he opened the business;

  4. he doesn’t take enough time off;

  5. he is concerned that business is getting in the way of his relationship at home;

  6. he doesn’t get very much help from his professional advisors;

  7. he knows he needs to do more staff training on customer service.

Sounding familiar? I resisted the temptation to say that, 30 years on, I’m going through similar issues on a daily basis. It wouldn’t do to reveal to him, at this stage, it never gets better – would it? I was, however, comforted that, although he can see further than me, run faster than me, looks in better shape than me – and has years and years of happy self-employment ahead of him – we are kind of in the same boat – so it’s not just me that’s the low self-esteem worrier. And even with a franchise-prototype – there is still a need for “community” amongst business owners – especially solorpreneurs. I’ve reflected this first week back from holiday that a large proportion of the client emails have expressed stress and frustration and not being able to get it all “quite right” – teams working together with technology, systems and clients. We really are all in the same boat you know – living our lives of quiet desperation in a world of technological overload. There are times when I wish I was 24 again and knew what I know now – I’d be retired and financially independent by age 40 – and would then dedicate my professional life to lifting others up the ladder. I feel as if I am working harder now than I ever have before. Moan, moan, moan. Sorry. Looking on the bright side – an email from a client this morning from which I extract:

I feel really energised and more positive about dentistry and the future and a huge part of that is down to you and the DBS – Thanks, you are doing a great job

and another which reads:

So the wheels are in motion and things are about to change. Why am I telling you all this- just to say thanks for your honesty. You are a no bullshit kind of guy like me which is why I like to listen to you. Your last “show” in Leeds in July was sensational. I haven’t laughed as much in a long time!

It seems that my legacy in life is not a pile of assets, material possessions, trophy lifestyle, stability – but a file full of testimonials from people whose lives I have influenced for the good and a very unstable life for myself. It would just be a bit nicer if I could find a way of combining that with making enough money to retire in 7 years from now. And by “retire” I mean work but not have to work for the money any more. There’s a vision. And a goal worth showing up for?

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