The QT

Friday 14 June 2024

A new Broom

David Broom comes clean on the unique challenges facing ambitious entrepreneurs seeking the perfect work-life balance

In the world of start-ups, authenticity is often preached but rarely practised. We’re told to embrace our vulnerabilities, to share our stories and to trust that the world will resonate with our truths. 

Yet, when it comes to showcasing our professional journeys, we often default to a highlight reel: polished, pristine, and perpetually winning. ‘Instagram versus Reality’ comes to mind.  And trust me when I say that my highlight reel is just the tip of a gigantic iceberg.  The real story — the one left untold — is below the surface and often out of sight. But certainly not out of mind.

It’s time for me to deviate from this unhealthy norm, to shovel away the bullshit, and to dive below the surface of this complex, sometimes difficult, entrepreneurial journey.  Raw and unfiltered.

I love what I do, but let’s get one thing straight — it’s far from easy. The challenges are off the scale and the journey is a constant battle between the highs of achievements and the lows of personal sacrifices, insecurity, and uncertainty. 

Let’s start with ‘self-care’, or rather, the (almost total) lack of it. The narrative behind my achievements doesn’t showcase the sleep deprivation and the mental races at 2am with panic, ambition and, sometimes, sheer dread all vying for the finish line. The reality is my sleep pattern is wrecked. And my diet? Let’s just say it includes bowls of cereal at times when the rest of the world considers it to be the middle of the night. 

Family time is important to David. But is he achieving ‘quality’ family time?

And how about family time — the sacred, untouchable family time I preach to myself as being important every single day? In the life of a start-up entrepreneur, even this isn’t spared. While I might be physically present, mentally I’m often miles away, navigating through the endless to-do list that never seems to shrink. I can see myself, almost as though I’m having an out of body experience, sat there on my phone while my kids grow up around me. Even writing this makes me feel sh***y. The guilt of not being ‘fully there’ as a parent or as a partner weighs heavily on my mind, turning what should be relaxing family moments into sessions of silent agitation and stress.

And then comes the internal conflict: that constant, gnawing presence that questions every decision, every success. On the surface, I present growth, positive feedback and an image of success that’s probably enviable. But scratch a little below the surface and you’ll find a different story. It’s a story of pressure, a constant fear of failure and a looming sensation of being an imposter in my own story.

Why am I sharing this? Because this narrative is not unique to me. It’s the unspoken chapter in the stories of countless entrepreneurs who are navigating the same tumultuous waters. We shout about the wins — and rightly so because they are crucial milestones. But equally important is the acknowledgment of what rests below the surface. I’m talking about the personal challenges, the sacrifices and the internal battles that feel large enough to sink ships.

Yes, we need to celebrate the wins but let’s not gloss over the struggles. They are real, they are intense and they are a significant part of the entrepreneurial journey. We need to talk about the sleepless nights, the guilt of compromised family time, the internal turmoil, the anxiety, the stress, the self-doubt (THE SELF-DOUBT!!) and the relentless pursuit of balancing personal wellbeing with professional success.

David meeting with colleagues at Fintegrate

And while we’re at it, let’s also shatter some stereotypes. Not all entrepreneurs fit into the cliché mould. I’m that entrepreneur who wears tee-shirts most days and comes with a collection of tattoos. Yet my LinkedIn posts show me in a suit, staring off into the distance as if I’ve ‘made it’ when, in reality, I’m staring out of a window wondering when I’m going to find time to close even one item off my to-do list (and why I’m wearing a suit in the first place).

I share my story not for sympathy or applause but in the spirit of fostering a community where we can be candid about our journeys. I want to create a space where vulnerability is not seen as a weakness but as a strength. For me, it’s important to acknowledge, openly, that while our paths are strewn with victories, they are also marked by challenges that test our resilience every step of the way.

So let’s cut out at least some of the bullshit and start sharing the entirety of our entrepreneurial journeys — the good, the bad and everything in between. Let’s continue to share our stories, not just the chapters of triumphs but also the pages of struggles. Because, in the end, these are the narratives that forge genuine connections, foster mutual support and pave the way for a more authentic, inclusive, and understanding entrepreneurial ecosystem.

I almost didn’t write this column. I struggled to find time. But now I get to tick something off my to-do list — just in time for me to do some painting with my little girl before bedtime.  That’s the real highlight reel.

David and the Brooms taking care of family business

David Broom is a North Tyneside-based entrepreneur with a global reach. The passionate Scot is a board advisor, angel investor and sales and management consultant with a wealth of experience working alongside local, regional, national and international clients. Co-owner of growth partners B7 Associates, co-founder of financial advisers River Birch Newman and COO of financial advisers Fintegrate, David juggles a busy business diary with family life and his love of Manchester United. You’ll also find him in the stands supporting Newcastle Eagles every week as he helps British basketball’s most successful franchise reach its full potential. 

The Centre for Life Science Centre was recently voted ‘best visitor experience in England’ following a Mystery visit survey from BVA BDRC

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