Almost every day a small business owner comes into my office to share his or her dream with me.
Sometimes they’ve already got a business, whether it’s a storefront, a home office, or a retail space. Other times it’s just an idea that they want to bounce off me to see if it makes sense. Often the person comes in covertly during their lunchtime so their boss won’t know about their desire to escape the cubicle and create something new.
This is the best part of my day.
Nothing picks me up like hearing the entrepreneurial ideas of small business owners and future small business owners. It’s like caffeine for the soul. Their dreams power the future success of our country and our economy.
Of course, there’s a long journey between a dream and success. It’s a path that requires long hours, sacrifices, and trying to find the nearly impossible balance of running a business and having a life.
It’s not for everybody. I know a number of people who wanted to work for themselves because they wanted more flexibility, free time, or didn’t want to answer to a boss.
Flexibility? Yes, you’ve got to be flexible to somehow juggle all the jobs you’re suddenly saddled with, from sales to marketing to accounting to hiring to buying office supplies to taking out the trash.
Free time? I don’t know a business owner who doesn’t check email before they go to bed and as soon as they wake up. Who often works through lunch. Who reviews their numbers after dinner at the dining room table.
Not answering to a boss? When you run a small business you suddenly have to answer to dozens, maybe hundreds of bosses…from your customers to your employees to your vendors to the tax collectors to your spouse wondering why you’re late for dinner…again.
Small business owners are the hardest working people I know. These are the men and women who get up early, flesh out business strategies after they’ve put the kids to bed, who work out of their living rooms and coffee shops until they can afford a space of their own. They’re also the people who employee 95% of the workers in my home state of Maine. (The unofficial small business state of America.)
They work without a safety net. They know that they have mouths to feed–both family members and the family members of their employees–and they’ve got to get it done, and done right. Fear of letting others down is their only safety net.
They’re constantly learning and working to expand their business. They read articles online, attend lunch & learns, network at After Hours events, and hustle–really hustle–to get and keep their business.
If it wasn’t for them, business in America would grind to a halt.
You see them every day. Maybe it’s the woman running the local coffee shop in the shadow of a giant corporate coffee franchise. Maybe it’s the IT consultant who makes your network secure. Maybe it’s personal trainer at the gym, or the sales trainer who consults at your corporation.
Maybe she’s your car mechanic, or maybe he’s your dentist. Maybe it’s your corporate lawyer who’s running a successful collectibles business on eBay after hours.
Maybe they align themselves with the Tea Party, or Occupy Wall Street, or maybe they wonder how anyone can take time off to protest anything when there’s so much work to get done. You’ll find them on both sides of the aisle, and more often than not right in the middle.
You’ll find them in churches, temples, mosques, or walking in the woods.
And often, you’ll find them in the mirror.
Despite all the variances and differences in small business owners. they all have something in common: they all work incredibly hard.
You may ask yourself—unless you already know the answer–how can anyone work this hard, make so many sacrifices and risk so much when the future is unclear, when the economy is sputtering, and when so many others have failed before?
It’s because small business owners run on the most efficient, environmentally-friendly, sustainable energy there is: passion.
It’s this mix of passion and hard work that drives small business owners to put in the long hours so they can turn their vision into your reality.
Now, I’ve got to run. I’ve got a meeting with another entrepreneurial person who wants to take the world by storm.
Best part of my day.