Getting Stuck In – doing whatever it takes

My ‘Coffee with Colm’ topic this week focuses on doing whatever it takes.

How much should we do to give ourselves the best opportunity to succeed? In my book Feeding Johnny – How to Build a Business despite the Roadblocks I think it through in a chapter mini-section entitled Getting stuck in

Below is that snippet from the book for you to consider. 

For context, The year was 2005. Our first business had just failed. We were broke. Our fledgling School Lunch Business was still trading and although tiny was beginning to show promise. Our backs were against the wall. What were we to do?

What follows in this snippet, is a both a testimonial for AND a warning about getting stuck in.

Getting stuck in

A dictionary definition:

get stuck in

UK informal

Definition to start doing something enthusiastically

As I began this section I was curious to know if a definition existed for getting stuck in, a term that most of us know and use in a blasé fashion, and I was pleasantly surprised that the oracle that is Google presented me with the above definition from Cambridge Dictionaries Online. It was time that I started doing this school lunch thingy enthusiastically.

I realized three things. First, that if Dad and I had managed to get extra business by hopping in a car and driving to another city, then perhaps there were more DEIS schools out there that would welcome our service. Second, by now we knew what we were doing and had the bones of a system that would allow us take on new business in a relatively simply. Third, I realised with great joy that, unlike the café which was effectively a retail outlet dependent mainly on how many people were passing your door, a ‘factory’ could supply anywhere – we could travel to find customers, rather than sitting there in victim mode bemoaning why they hadn’t found us.

It was a classic case of we had nothing to lose. If it worked, great, waiting around was not an option. And so I did. I got stuck in. I got stuck in with gusto. In getting stuck in I found my own definition for what that phrase means.

Ask me now what did I do exactly and the answer would be simply everything. Did I make sandwiches? Yes. Pack lunches? Yes. Drive vans? Yes. Place orders? Yes. Visit schools? Yes. Make sales calls? Yes. Do deliveries? Yes. Pay bills? Yes. Mediate in staff rows? Yes. Stand on top of the recycling bin to compact the cardboard so I could squeeze in some more? Yes, Fix plugs? Yes. Wash out trays? Yes. Clean the toilets? Yes. Sleep? Not much.

Getting stuck in, in my opinion, is more than starting to do things enthusiastically; it is doing whatever it takes – for as long as it takes – to make something happen.

Now here’s a challenge. One of the biggest problems with ‘getting stuck in’ is the possibility that you end up getting ‘sucked in’ to both the work, and its attendant adrenalin, and secondly to believing that it’s all you; in other words your very sense of self is derived from being the guy or the girl who makes it happen 24/7/365. In my opinion both of these side effects are dangerous because very simply they lead to burn out. Millions of self employed people around the world hate the jobs they have created for themselves, work they once adored, because they got stuck in with no plan as to how to replace themselves in the work. This is a fundamental difference between the mentality of the self-employed and business owners. I never wanted to be self employed – but was willing to for a time – so I could create a system into which I could draw others who would eventually do the work.

From day one everything that I did – and I mean everything – I was planning to replace myself in. Today I refuse to answer the phone in the office because if I do it means someone, whose job it is to answer the phone isn’t doing theirs.


If you enjoyed that snippet and would like to watch me teach other business lessons in 5-minute videos click:

If would like a complimentary copy of the book in audio, narrated by yours truly so you get all the nuances, feel free to grab one here:

If you’d like to find out more about my one-day Seminar in May for SME Business Owners and Senior Professional Managers called ‘Take-Off’ visit

Thanks for thinking with me.

Yours truly


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4 Responses to “Getting Stuck In – doing whatever it takes”
  1. Lorraine Duane

    Hi Colm, Words of wisdom as always. This is the tricky part stepping back letting go of your baby. I’m at this stage now where shareholders are taking hold of one of the reigns. Hard to share sometimes.

    • Colm

      Difficult transition Lorraine.

      Take your time, think it through, ask yourself what the outcome will be in 2020 if you do or if you don’t.

      Either way make sure you are happy with the picture into the future.


  2. Brendan marren

    Thanks for the coffee, you sound a bit like mike murphy

    Well done,

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