I talk with many small business owners every week. They’re usually in a stressed situation and wondering if they will ever get their business performing well. A question I ask is why are you working for yourself? Half don’t have a ready answer – they drifted into small business ownership. Most of the other half are in business for themselves, in pursuit of the dream. Usually the dream is economic as opposed to social.
Just as many people spend a fortune on being princess for a day at their wedding, many small business owners spend too much time and money on the feeling of business rather than the operation.
Owning a small business is not a dream come true, it’s not a fairy tail. It’s hard work and it’s serious. The obligations are enormous: economic and social. There’s no point in stepping onto the path unless you have a mission. A mission is crucial to providing the drive and the ability to overcome what seem like insurmountable obstacles.
Just as the marriage is the thing, as opposed to the wedding; the business and its achievements are the thing rather than being the boss.
I’ve owned this business for 25 years in January 2006. It’s a long time in one place. While it is a successful company, it is not wildly profitable in a financial terms. The real benefit of ownership of this business is the opportunity to give opportunities – to colleagues, to clients. I feel that on our small patch of the world we carry more than our weight in terms of economic value – measured by the value to our clients of our software; our number of employees; tax paid; efficiency improved etc…
I also feel that we are performing well socially – in community support; providing assistance beyond traditional business assistance; being environmentally responsible etc…. I count people who got their start with us, positions we created to give a person a break, the number of people we provided their first overseas trip to, the number of people we provided their first ever flight to, the marriages, the babies born … every human connect like this makes me smile. It’s a reason to be in business. To help people achieve their own goals.
It is the area of social responsibility where we need to improve and this is a key driver for me and for the company as we move into our 26th year. We want to engage more with the community and leave footprints of which we can be proud. It’s a challenge and a motivation.
That’s why I own my own business.