I’ve been a bad little blog writer as of late… I missed my post two weeks ago and then didn’t get last week’s post done on time… which is why it’s being posted today. I’ve been rather busy with work stuff and subsequently have neglected my post schedule. It’s been a busy few weeks around the office finalizing details for a new build project of ours, chasing a few new build clients, lining up some interior design work, and working through the details of that beautiful little bungalow of ours… and all the other stuff that comes with small business. There’s always ‘stuff’. Even the stuff has stuff. Which actually makes it a little ironic that this post is about small business ownership stuff.
You see the pretty photos of the pretty homes… I love them. You love them. We all love them. But behind each pretty photo is a machine running. It’s humming along, doing its thing, firing on all cylinders. How did that machine get there? Who designed it? Who maintains it? What happens when it breaks down? All are great questions.
I love small business… aka ‘the machine’. The excitement… the freedom… the creativity. Like a teenage boy sporting too many squirts of Axe body spray, the aroma of small business fills the air. I love it. I crave it. But there are also many challenges that come with small business. These challenges come at you day after day without delay or hesitation. How will you react? I’ve learned over the years to embrace and find joy in the challenges – partly because I don’t think you really have an option but to take the bad with the good. It’s the 1,000 hurdles each week… all the “no’s” before you hear a “yes”… all the tough moments that never make it to a well curated Instagram of all the pretty things. You’ve got to take small business just as it comes: 2 cups pure joy, 2 cups stress, and a pinch of anxiety. There’s no asking the chef for a substitute for the stress. He won’t answer. I’ve tried multiple times.
Tip… Order a side of Grit. It’ll balance out the bitterness of anxiety.
So in the same vein as this beauty, here are 11 Tips for owning a small business. Yeah, I know… 11 is super random… but it’s where the wit ran dry. May these 11 help you and yours as you pursue your dreams.
1. Crappy pants. Yeah, that’s right. I just went straight to it. Prepare to crap your pants about seven times a day as you get started and eventually decreasing to three or four times quarterly as you become more comfortable. Now, let me back track and first apologize to my wife and my mother for beginning a blog post with such a strong sentiment. Then, let me defiantly defend the use of said sentiment. Look… it all falls on you… the good… the bad… and the down right ugly. It’s a ton of pressure. And pressure can sour stomach’s. Be warned.
2. Self motivation. Are you self motivated? If you hesitated at that answer for even .0000001763 of a second consider other options. It’s easy to work hard when everyone is looking. What’s most important in small business ownership is what you do when nobody is looking. Because most of the time nobody is looking.
3. T-E-A-M. Build the best team you can: employees, investors, advisors, mentors, joint venture partnerships – everyone matters. It won’t come quickly. It won’t come easily. You’ll take two steps forward, and then one step back. But it’s worth it. You will need every ounce of a great team to make things work.
4. Who are you? Determine what you and your company will stand for. And then do not waiver. Let your morals dictate your decisions, not your circumstances.
5. Find a business mentor. If I could go back and give my old self this advice I would. And I would’ve fared a little better in a few situations.
6. MBA. Do you have one? I picked one up awhile back. And it’s from the School of Hard Knocks. I was lucky enough to attend day and night courses. Fun Fact: Attendance is not voluntary. Be warned.
7. Audit. It’s a scary word. You’ll get audited. By your general liability and worker’s compensation insurance carrier. Possibly others. The first audit may be painful. But you won’t die. And you’ll learn that if you cross your t’s and dot your i’s audits are just a recurring annual meeting. And auditor’s are real people too. With real feelings. Hug your local auditor.
8. Feed the Machine. The machine is always running. It never sleeps. It quietly and constantly devours everything in its path. You must feed the machine. If you don’t feed the machine, it will run dry. If it runs dry, you will to. You must feed the machine. It’s of vital importance to the state. Feed it in the morning, feed it in the afternoon, and feed it in the evening. Set you alarm clock to wake up in the middle of the night and give it a bottle. Rock it for a second, and put it back down. If you don’t lead generate, network, or do any advertising or marketing for your business you will not be able to feed the machine and it will run dry.
9. You’re never really off. You’ll try and detach… you know you will. Maybe go on a vacation to a far away land… possibly an island… with fancy drinks with umbrellas in them… try and lay low… get some rest. “Recharge the batteries” as they say… But there will be cell reception. Or wifi service. You subconsciously knew it all along. And it will dangle out there and tempt you. Like a mini bar with no lock on it – you can only avoid it for so long. You’ll compromise with your own inner will power and tell yourself, “I’ll just check one”…. “Just an innocent email, right? How could it hurt me?” But in reality you know it’s just a gateway… a gateway email to an entire inbox of crack that sucks you in like a black hole. Before you know it you’ll be making meaningless trips to the car to “look for your sunglasses”… You can only play that off three or four times so you’ll switch to “I need to get some air” so you can take a walk and make some phone calls. It’s 8pm and you need a quick jolt so you say “my stomach is a little upset” and you hole up in the bathroom for 10 minutes, who knows, maybe 15 if the social media game is strong. That first email… it was only a gateway email and you knew it all along. Now you’re playing C-E- freaking- O on the road. Like a boss. Quarterbacking the whole operation from the bathroom of a foreign land. Remember: you’re never really off.
10. Dream big. Random fact: I’m a huge George Patton fan. We’ll save that story for another blog post. He was full of quotes. One of my favorites is: I do not fear failure. I only fear the slowing up of the engine inside of me which is pounding saying, ‘Keep going, someone must be on top, why not you?’
11. Work / Life balance. This is a struggle for everyone. The World we live in is very busy and sometimes it feels hard to keep up with. Give deep consideration to what’s most important in life. And don’t let work get between you and them
Be good my friends,