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Published: 11 March 2017

By Andy Ross

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The trials of a small business

It has been an interesting week, and we have learnt a lot.

Running any small business is Hard Work. In amongst all the fun and frolics that come with being one's own boss, are the everyday hassles and wrangles that need fixing; jobs which cannot be done by anyone else but you. Despite delegating responsibility for finishing blankets and throws, for reordering the reference library, for making up iPod and iPad covers, and for all the sundry other jobs that our team of volunteers do, and despite having the Tweed Team working away on ideas and projects,  and despite having a book-keeper looking after the financial side of the company(thank you all for your sterling efforts!) there are some things like tax returns which need to be done by Yours Truly. Not that I am complaining; these are Important Tasks and need to be done in order to ensure the company runs properly. 

But sometimes something comes along which throws the proverbial spanner in the works and this week that happened. Here is the story. 

Alvin, the big loom, has been working away creating beautiful cloth for throws. In spite of a maintenance schedule and a  going-over each time we start a project, the unforseen happened early on in the week. In the fly shuttle boxes, screwed to the top of each channel, there is a piece of plastic which guides the shuttle securely into the space when it crosses the warp. It is one of those pieces which you would never give a thought to but is actually vital to the running of the machine. Suddenly, on one of the boxes, the plastic fell off and it has taken the best part of a week to get it screwed back again. This process involved dismantling the fly shuttle box mechanism, finding out what sort of screw had been used (an 8x1/2 sheetmetal screw cut down, if you are interested!) and then sourcing a right angled screwdriver. Luckily, because we live on an island with a fabulous shop, "Mary's", down in Aywick, this was relatively easy to do and gradually we got all the bits together. So now, after bruised fingers, fine wooden splinters, squashed hands and a little bit of bad language, Alvin looks good to go again. Fingers crossed he is going to work and we won't have this problem again. But it has taken time and energy to get it all working properly again and it has been a little bit tiring. 

I guess what this has taught us is to make sure that a) we are prepared for things to go wrong, and b) we have the time, energy and capacity to allow for these things to happen without it causing a knock-on effect on the work schedule. Let's hope that we don't have too many of the same kinds of lesson to learn in future!