I’m fairly sure that one of the key skills you need when starting a business is the ability to ‘bluff’ – to pretend you know something that in reality you have no clue about, but equally to have the resourcefulness to be able to find the answers.
When I started Brighton Reticulation in 2008 I knew a bit about Retic but there was a hell of a lot I had no clue about – and ironically it’s only now that I realize just how much I didn’t know… If I knew then how much I didn’t know I might never have given it a whirl. In the first few months of work I relied on persistence, logic and the occasional call to the staff at Total Eden to bale me out when I was stumped. It got me thru.
But then I did start off doing it as a hobby with nothing to lose… I was having fun and wasnt too concerned if work came in or if things were quiet, but things have changed.
It was only this week that I actually acknowledged it. I have always seen Retic and turf as something I would do for a few years, but would drop once I got bored. But this week as I upgraded my trailer I realised this has got pretty serious… I needed a new trailer to fit all my stuff on. A trencher, a compacter, lawn leveller, wheelbarrow etc.
When I started I had a couple of shovels which I tossed in the back of the car and a handful of parts. Now I’m a mobile retic shop and refuse to use substandard tools.
Ok this isn’t a hobby any more…
So what is it?
I don’t see myself as a retic and turf bloke, but that is what I do. I guess I am still getting used to being a blue collar worker after so long in a white collar world. It’s been a gradual shift in my sense of identity and while I don’t want to feel bound to ‘Retic and turf’ I do need to acknowledge that I could be doing this for another 10 years if I play it smart.
If you’d told me 10 years ago that I would be doing manual labour for a crust I would have laughed you off. I hated getting my hands dirty and I was infamous for my lack of handyman skills.
But here I am now. It’s not a hobby any more… It’s a… I struggle to find the word. A business?…
Yep, but it’s more than that.
Hmmm… Probably stretching the definition of the word, but I do enjoy it a heap and live the freedom of being my own boss.
A job? Nope. I don’t like the thought of just doing something for the financial reward.
An adventure… I guess this is the word I would choose because it just keeps unfolding in ways that I don’t expect. I keep learning and discovering as I go and yet I never feel like I can say ‘made it’.
I guess that’s why I’m still going. A hobby is fun – and adventure is fun, but in a different way.
The last few weeks I have been filled with an overwhelming sense of gratitude for the shape my life takes. Working hard on a cool sunny day, interacting with interesting people, doing a damn good job and seeing people happy, lunching by the beach, getting home early, being paid well for my efforts… I could go on… But I’m a fortunate man.
I’ve had some dark moments in the last few months as I have wondered where life is headed but right now I think it’s ‘more of the same’ and I’ve got to say I’m pretty happy about that.
My email signature has a quote from Helen Keller that says ‘life is a daring adventure or nothing at all’ and I guess I am feeling the adventure quotient on the rise again. That’s gotta make you joyful!
Thanks for your reflections. It is interesting to hear the story of someone who just found themselves a labourer and enjoys it. I feel the same gratitude for the adventure that is my work too. Thanks again,