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We’ve all heard these words at some point in our lives – hell, I’m sure that on occasion we have uttered them ourselves. I know I have – in my youth when I entered some or other competition (usually sport for me) and I was up against someone who was really, really good, I would usually give myself a ‘pep’ talk of sorts that had the words ‘come on Viljoen – you know you can do it!’

So why am I telling you all of this? Simple really – for your own good! Ok, I’ll stop teasing and get down to it.

Somehow, when we are business owners, these words seem to fly out the window and we are left to our own devices, little puddles on the floor. Scared witless, petrified that we will fail, that we will fall down, that we will embarrass ourselves and in doing so embarrass friends and family. We take all the crap that the rest of society hands out like we are second class citizens in our own lives.

I don’t think that there is a day that goes by that we don’t have it thrown in our faces that businesses fail, the percentages of failed new start ups, the numbers flaunted in our faces and yet in the very next breath we are put under tremendously serious pressure when we are told that the economy is dependent on upon our success. I mean what’s with that? Why would you do that to somebody? Why would you put the weight of the world upon their shoulders and then just as they are about to take their first wobbly step out into the unknown you chop them off at the knees!

Oh and let’s not forget the big corporate companies, banks and even government who, stand on their soap boxes and pontificate to the world (and anyone else who wants to listen) on how they are assisting the SMME (small, medium, micro enterprise) and the entrepreneur. All the stuff that they give away such as money, training, freebies and what have you and yet, behind the scenes they are actually crippling and even killing small businesses, when they don’t pay invoices on time and pay 60 or 90 or 120 days and even worse in some situations, which means in reality that the small business owner is ‘carrying’ the cash flow of the large corporate, on their shoulders.

What about the various banks who want to be ‘seen’ as doing everything for the SMME in terms of loans and guidance and whatever other words that they can sugar coat to get us to believe what they are saying, only to make it so difficult to qualify for anything that it’s easier to just, ‘go for it’ on your own because it’s a lot less hard on the nerves (not to mention the wallet) in the long run – oh yes, I’m sure they forgot to mention just how much you are going to pay for that ‘help’ that they so lovingly gave.

Often we are so bullied by our colleagues, our so called friends and family, who are just ‘looking out for’ us, that we begin to believe all the BS that get sprouted out of their ‘well intentioned’ mouths that we forget that we actually ‘can’ do it!

Yes of course we can – actually we have been doing it from the moment we were born. We have survived, we have grown (usually in length as well as in width *Sigh* as we have grown older). We have learnt to crawl and learnt to walk and then to run, we have passed exams and played sport and learnt how to read and write and ride bicycles and ridden horses and learnt to drive a motor car, found ourselves a job and met and married the person of our dreams (or not) and had children of our own (or not) and gotten divorced (or not) and started our own businesses, which have succeeded or not and yet we have survived – often against all odds.

Let’s put it into a bit of perspective shall we. There is this child, let’s call her Suzie – she is almost a year old and she is starting to walk. Her family and their friends all clap when she takes a step or two, they all reach out to steady her if she looks like she is going to wobble or fall over. They cheer and encourage her when looks like she is hesitating and they even praise her and tell her what a good job she is doing, even when she is actually falling flat on her face. Here’s the important part – when she does fall flat on her face, they all encourage her to get back up and try again.

You don’t hear anyone saying things like ‘hey Suzie, this walking thing is overrated, most people never learn how to do it, why don’t you just give it a miss and let someone else carry you around for the rest of your life” or “hey Suzie, I don’t think this walking thing is for you, perhaps you should stick to crawling,” or “don’t you think you’re a bit young/inexperienced/wet behind the ears (insert your own issue here) to be doing this – perhaps you should wait a bit and learn from your peers or mentors” or my personal favorite “haven’t you learnt yet that you are going to get hurt – why do you continue to try?”

The worst of it is that by choice, we as SMME’s seem to take pleasure in surrounding ourselves with the very people who, in the name of ‘looking out for us’ are constantly putting us down. We socialize with those, who have never owned their own businesses themselves and are therefore in no position to give any advice, and yet who constantly tell us how stupid, naïve, idiotic we are for trying to do this thing. Why do we do this to ourselves? Why, Why, Why?

The reality is that “YES WE CAN” do it. We can be successful, we have more often than not been successful in the past, and you know what, even if we do fall over, make a silly decision, trust someone that we perhaps shouldn’t, we are survivors. We can overcome any obstacle, we can get up again and go forward and the best of all, we can surround ourselves with positive people. People who will encourage us, who will reach out and steady us when we wobble. People who will praise us, even when we fall flat on our faces and who will reach out to help us up again. People who will be telling us why we can succeed not people telling us why we cannot.

More importantly, people who genuinely care, instead of corporates and governments and people, with hidden agendas, who care only about how they are ‘seen’ and what they are ‘seen to be doing’.

I, for one am going to be making a whole bunch of changes in my life this year. I will be getting rid of whomever and whatever causes chaos in my life. I am going to surround myself with people who are trying to make positive changes in their own lives and in the lives of others. I am going to be walking away from friends, relatives and colleagues who don’t add any value to my life and concentrate on those who do and who I can add value to.

I am going to hang about with those who encourage me and who I can encourage. Who will you be hanging out with?