It would be terribly remiss of me not to blog about the untimely death of the 27 year-old British singer Amy Winehouse today.
Unlike others, I won't be picking apart her chosen lifestyle, nor will I be judging her. She made her own choices and, although it would appear that these choices ultimately led to her death, they were hers to make.
For small business owners there is, however, a lot to be learned from Amy's untimely death.
Although rarely referred to as such, most musical artists and celebrities are businesses in their own right. In fact, for all those detractors out there that say that being "self-employed" is not a "proper" business, think again. This successful business model is one that has been proven time and time again.
But whether you are a pop star, a plumber or a business consultant, the same rules still apply: you are the product. And if that's the case, you are going to need to take really good care for yourself if you want your business to succeed.
Amy got off to a great start. She had the raw talent and the skills to write and perform. She trained herself, brought the right people around her and she made it to the big time. And quickly.
With five grammys and a Brit Award to her name, you'd think she was untouchable. But, like every fledgling, fast growing business, Amy lost control. Her "brand" became driven by her record company. Her "image" was tinkered with, and her relationship with the media resembled more of a cat and mouse game (where Amy was the mouse), than a strategically managed campaign. Little by little the public saw a young, healthy, talented girl, slim down to just a shadow of her former self.
At first, she was talented enough to get by. Live performances, although slightly edgy, were strong enough to forgive the fact that she'd obviously had a few before she went on stage. But eventually, even this all proved too much for her adoring fans and just a few months ago, the quality of her performance was so poor she was booed off stage in Serbia.
There are so many parallels here in business. A young business starts well, and gets busy. The business owner frequently ignores their own health, swapping trips to the gym for an extra couple of hours in the office, eating takeaway dinners instead of healthy home cooked food, scrimping on sleep and generally running themselves into the ground.
This cycle of personal abandonment all leads to poor decision-making in business. Recruiting too many staff (usually the wrong ones) too quickly. Missing deadlines. Not responding to customers. Falling behind with the business finances.
And then the wheels fall off. This is the business equivalent of being booed off stage.
Clients complain, or worse -- walk, and businesses are left in a spiral of decline that, in some cases can be irreversible.
So, my advice to small business owners (and pop stars) is this: your job is like a marathon, not a 100m sprint.
You need to train for it. Moreover you need to maintain your own health and fitness first because if you are at the core of the business. You are the brand. Start eating healthily, stop scrimping on sleep and start going to the gym.
It may sound simple. But it works. You will benefit. Your customers will benefit. Your business will benefit.
And today, in honour of Amy Winehouse, I am going to go to the gym. For the first time in about six months. She's just reminded me why I should.