5 reasons why mixing business with pleasure might just pay off

 The Dragonfly Diaries

The sun was shining, our kids were playing, everything was fine… but we were dreamless. And it was affecting our mental health.

After teaching together for over twelve years, we were chomping at the bit to do something we were immensely passionate about: to support young people with their well-being in a meaningful and genuine way, without being measured by data trends or value-added outcomes. Our journey started that day - ‘shall we do it?’ became ‘how shall we do it?’. ‘Dragonfly’ was born.

Our own mental health wasn’t out of the woods though! We approach business like we approach life – with an over-zealous and tenacious drive that has the potential to burn us out and bankrupt us to boot. Luck (not judgement) stepped in at that point and our support network became our safety net. By drawing on the amazing skills, talents and resources of our nearest and dearest and realising you can mix business with pleasure, we’re staying sane and solvent.  

Here are 5 things we wish we’d realised sooner:

  1. Pull in those favours

Remember that time you volunteered to be designated driver so your friends could let their hair down? Or the time you cooked dinner for 27 people on New Year’s Eve so everyone’s kids could run wild in safety? You probably don’t. You’ve probably not given it a second thought - it’s what anyone would do, right? Well, wrong actually. If you’ve gone that extra mile over the years to put yourself out for others, then when you ask for help, that boomerang comes right back at you. From logos to websites, photography to marketing, business advice to legal advice, your friends and family may well be able to deliver in spades. You’ll be truly amazed by both talent and generosity. It takes the pressure off financially and makes you feel like you have people in your corner – a real gift in those first few months of a new business.

  1. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

We usually agree completely on strategic business decisions and the fundamental values we believe in, but we’ve learnt we have totally conflicting opinions on font choice! We could debate the merits of Baskerville Old Face versus Calibri Light infinitum: the connotations, the variations, the implications… (yawn). As a partnership, our discussions are out loud, but this could easily happen in your own head with all sorts of things. It’s ultimately procrastination and detracts from the important stuff. So, our advice – make a decision and see the best in it. You can always change it tomorrow.

  1. Sweat the Small Stuff!

We started by searching for the holy grail of workspaces. You know, that utopia of super-fast wifi, award-winning coffee and dreamy acoustics.  After months of test-driving a motley crew of hotels, coffee shops and soft play centres, we finally admitted defeat, beaten down by the parking fines, the fire drills, and the ‘shushers’. Like us, the answer to your perfect workspace might just surprise you - ours came in the guise of 37 degrees and a downward-facing dog. Hot yoga was our answer! The staple ‘directors’ meeting’ became our musings on the journey to and fro (with the serious switch-off in the middle focussing our minds and fast-tracking much of our thinking). By the time we came to the production part, the dreamy acoustics were redundant and all we needed was a laptop, a spare room and a pot of peppermint tea.


  1. Expect the 80/20 rule to rule (mercilessly!)

As is often the case in life, 80% of the work tends to take 20% of the time and you begin to see and feel that finish line. But, be ready. That final 20% can catch you out and leave you flagging and frustrated. In our experience, it’s the emotional impact that takes the greatest toll. It’s the fatigue and the cumulative exasperation of certain situations (more than the actual task itself). In his book [21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time - Berrett-Koehler Publishers; 3 edition (April 17, 2017)], self-development guru Brian Tracy says ‘Eat that Frog’– do the thing that you least want to do first and get it done. Or, we recommend sleeping on it (the task not the frog) and asking yourself the next day whether you can set the frog free. If you can, excellent, it’s off the menu. If you can’t, suddenly that frog becomes something of great importance to your goal and reminds you why you wanted it in the first place. Rather than resenting the task, it becomes integral to your success and you can own it and take pride in it again.


  1. Walk the tightrope – it’s worth it

So, should you start a business with your best friend? Should you cross the line with those closest to you and bravely ask them for a leg up with your dream? Should you ask your brother-in-law for legal advice at Uncle Ron’s 70th birthday party? Possibly not the latter and admittedly all of this comes with an element of risk – after all, we are all drilled in the art of mixing business with pressure. Business should be hard, right? No time for enjoyment or fun. But – if you can walk the tightrope -the benefits are huge. Dr Rangan Chatterjee in his book ‘The Stress Solution’ [Penguin Random House, 2018] talks about the Japanese concept of Ikigai – the idea that to feel whole, a person should find something to do with their life that meets four criteria:

  • Something you love
  • Something you’re good at
  • Something the world needs
  • Something you can make money from

This is a tough ask for most of us, but a good reminder that starting a business should come from the heart first and foremost. If you don’t love it, how can you expect others to? We are just starting our journey, chasing our Ikigai, but we can safely say (along with our family and friends) Dragonfly is what we wake up for in the morning. Having a head full of dreams, and people to share them with, is no bad thing.


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We wholly believe in the potential of young people and their ability to soar through life and make a success of the path in which they choose to go down. But we also recognise that whilst modern life is bursting with opportunity, it’s also a bit scary and complicated.
We know first-hand that some children are dealing with some big issues. We’ve found that they often need an outlet, a listening ear, a chat, a different perspective. And the people that look after them – their families, their carers and their teachers – sometimes need a little help too. That’s where we come in.
Through bespoke one-to-one sessions, workshops, presentations, training, talks and programmes - our ambition is simple: to create a world where our children are emotionally healthy, with the tools to successfully steer through modern life.