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One door closes, many others open. As a new self employed business woman, the ideas, the energy, and the plans whirling around me are exhilarating and overwhelming. Be warned, this posts rambles on a little bit.
There are many people out there who are ‘serial entrepreneurs’, starting one business after another with determination and ultra-confidence. Some ventures (most?) fail, some succeed, the proprietors appear to make a living.
What about the other kind of people who start their own business? The ones who see a need they think they can fill. Or those feel a desire to be close to the ground and see their work’s impact first hand. But they don’t have that innate persistence to keep trying and trying. They aren’t in it just for the sake of ‘being their own boss’ – there are different drivers, less type-A personality and more tentative decisions.
I feel awkward at ‘almost 40’, entering into this world. I envision myself spreading out into the community and tapping into peoples needs. My goals are: to use as many of my strengths as possible, keep focused on my desire to make the world a better place by connecting people, have fun, make it an adventure and to spend lots of quality time with my family. I am trying to visualize this with as much clarity as possible – hoping a clear vision will compensate for the huge gaps in my experience in business start-up.
I am scared of all the ideas and enthusiasm around me. How do I tap into people’s strengths without being overwhelmed by them? How do I maintain focus without being stupidly blind? And now that the rubber has hit the road, is the amount of income still low on the list of priorities (given a certain minimum, of course)? How do I maintain persistence in the face of opposition? Ugh – there are sooooo many questions and so little certainty. I know I signed up for this and I believe that I will successful, but it seems daunting.
When I look at the information out there on starting businesses, It is all about cash flow and marketing plans. I have found countless websites and books with lists of business ideas and how to implement them. It is presented as this simple formula that you just need to follow. Perfect for someone who just wants to be there own boss and autonomy is their only goal.
But what about the obscure ones. The stories filled with inexperience, lofty goals, mistakes and successes. That is what who I am looking to for inspiration.
As I dream about what the future holds, as much as I want to read about how someone else doing it my way and succeeding, I know my inspiration needs to come from within. How did I get so lazy that I have stopped inspiring myself – where does that go? And now that I am finally forcing that part of me to WAKE UP – it seems broken. Is it like my flabby, post-kid belly? My stomach muscles stop working and know I have chronic back pain. I try to engage them again, maybe even do a few sit-ups, but everything hurts more the next day. Now I have a commitment to running and yoga, and it all seems to be slowly re-engaging the way it should be.
So what would be the parallel for my business confidence and inspiration as running and yoga is for my core muscles? I need to dream more, write more. I have been meditating more, smiling more.
I am at a loss how to tie this article up – oh well, post it and write more later 🙂
Just a warning, this isn’t a post about daycare – I am just using it as an example.
My kid is in a non-profit, childcare centre which I love. But now that I have 2 young kids, we have had to re-examine our daycare arrangements.
Exploring options, I drove down the road to a centre that was more convenient and, turns out, privately run. I kind of had a snobby preconception about for-profit centres. But this one was different, the owner worked there and she was obviously very passionate and proud of her amazing looking daycare.
Then I drove home thinking about it. I believe that small businesses are vibrant, healthy and fun to be part of. So are small organized movements – such as fundraisers or community governments. But once they start to grow, at some point, the balance between money and power vs human passion seems to tip. This owner-run daycare centre was great – because it wasn’t the franchised, “daycare is business”, type of centre I had seen elsewhere, which I don’t like.
Another story that demonstrates this. I had a friend who started a hair salon many years ago. They become really successful and hired staff and ran it as a husband and wife team. They were so successful, they decided to franchise and had a franchisee open a second salon. After franchising, the instances of theft increased and the quality of service decreased, they soon became disheartened sold the salons.
Occasionally there is a great leader who can motivate huge numbers of people to join their vision. Under them, the critical mass for a productive, empowered organization is much larger. For organizations that keep growing without one of these rare leaders, the passion eventually becomes lost in the hierarchy of mediocre leadership and the thirst for more money or power.
So that leaves a huge question. How do you continue to strive for success, which is healthy and natural, without becoming bloated, focused solely on growth and getting out of touch with foundation of your organization? I don’t have the answer, but I think if I ran a business, I would get to point where I think the size ‘is good enough’ – I am sustaining my business and I am happy with it. I would have to limit growth in sales and look at other ways to continue to improve. Is that reasonable? It sounds kind of communist. I just think there must be a better way to structure organizations so that they can ‘stay small’; so that every member is in touch with the big picture and feels like a contributor.
This flies in the face of our economic system. I remember hearing an interview with an executive from Roots clothing store. And he said (paraphrasing), I was happy with the sales we were generating, we didn’t need to grow – but if I went to the bank and asked for a loan to renovate a store, I would need to show how that would increase my business. A business plan with no plan for growth is not acceptable.
But since we are all sheeple, it is off to work I go… In a cubicle, for a president I have never met, with a fat pension and a set of goals that are supposed to motivate me to be my best. Keep my mind challenged and I will probably stay engaged. By I digress – obviously the company I work for has passed the critical mass. The employees talk fondly of the early years where growth and success were celebrated by every employee. Believe it or not – I like the free enterprise system we live in and am not a fan of big government, but something is not right about our organizational habits and strategies at a fundamental level. What if every organization – company, government, NGO, whatever – had a salary cap?
I hope the daycare down the street never franchises. I also hope it is successful beyond their dreams and that the parents, kids, staff and the owner celebrate and appreciate that. And I dream that one of those truly charismatic people shows up soon and inspires us all to re-think how our economic systems work – and that we all have the guts to tweek it.