Today marks the middle of National Small Business Week in America and I find it an appropriate time to reflect on my twenty-five years as a small business owner.
Small Business Is a Path
I started my business in 1987 and I distinctly remember my friends remarking at the time that I should keep looking, maybe a good job would open up. So much has changed in the past few decades. Owning a small business is now the dream of most and surest path to living the life you were meant to live.
Owning a small business allows me to practice my passion and choose how and why and when I work.
And, small business can lead you to forks that will suck the life out of you if you blink for even an instance, if you wander into shades of moral gray, if you allow yourself to work with people you don’t respect. Head and eyes up at all times on this path.
Small Business Is a Teacher
I started my business with only one asset. I knew that I could convince people that I could help. With confidence and no plan I jumped into the laboratory of small business and made a life choice to learn and never stop.
I learned lessons from odd places like books on architecture and math. I made discoveries with the help of Drucker, Carnegie, Peters, Godin and Gerber.
Small business allowed me to feed my superpower – curiosity.
And, small business taught me that confidence is only enough to sustain. In order to grow you must seek new knowledge about your industry and about yourself everyday. My greatest fear is not the volume of new information that I must consume, it’s the specter of irrelevance.
Small Business Is a Craft
At times the whir of everyday business and noise of urgent demands can mask the fact that we get to do what we love. Because, you see, doing what you love is not a job title, it’s a choice that anyone can make. But, we small business owners can, if we are brave enough, chuck the choices that others have in mind for us and seek out and do only that which feeds our unique ability and passion.
We get to practice and get better at using the things that make us stronger, feed our families and create value in and for others.
And, we can let fear and doubt consume us. There is no plan B, there is only what our heart tells us is true and if we don’t observe that truth there are so many ways to turn our craft into the job we never signed up for.
Small Business Is a Purpose
I think that the purpose of a business is to provide purpose for the owner, the employees and the larger community of people that drawn to buy from and support the business.
It doesn’t always work this way, but it’s the ultimate opportunity. Owning a business allows you to seek the higher purpose that business can serve and build that purpose into the strategy, culture and brand.
And, the thing about purpose is that it must find you. It’s terribly hard to determine the higher purpose your business is meant to serve in a strategy planning session. It must grow like a tree from seed to sapling to a place of shade.
The most important thing is that you must be anticipating it so that you recognize it when it shows up on your doorstep.
Small Business Is a Provider
Look all around you and you’ll find small business owners creating wealth and income far, far beyond what is achievable through employment of any kind. This is the promise of true innovation, of inspiring design, of persistence, of commitment.
Small business is in some ways the easiest way to make a living and provide the financial stability to achieve your personal goals. In fact, money will only become an issue if you don’t understand that there is plenty of it, if you try to constrict the flow of it, if you don’t appreciate that it’s meant to share.
And, the greater reality is that many, many small businesses, while providing a salary and job, are worthless beyond that. Few things are sadder to me than the thought that after doing something so bold and daring for so long that there would be no wealth accumulated along the way.
Building an asset as well as a business must be the primary objective if small business is to realize its full potential.
My intent today is to both inspire and shake you – if I’ve done even a little of either, I’ve succeeded.
And, I also need to thank everyone that has joined me, taught me and contributed to my awesome adventure so far.