Saturday, August 25, 2012

What’s ‘Small’ about a Small Business?

Small businesses are the ‘acorns of today that can grow into the oaks of tomorrow’ and the word ‘small; can detract from the core factors that drive sustainable growth in this sector. Most people in small business have ‘big’ dreams, make ‘big’ commitments, often have to compete with ‘bigger’ organisations, and constantly have to make ‘big’ decisions trying to balance risk and reward that directly impact their personal survival. In fact the only thing small about small business, compared to their big business counterparts is the number of people who work in the organisation – since some ‘small’ businesses have greater turnover and profit figures than other ‘bigger’ businesses.
I’ve had the pleasure of meeting some truly inspirational ‘small’ business owners over the years who have been prepared to sacrifice so much to achieve their business dreams and goals. They are the forgotten hero’s in a way, as we read in the press of way too many top corporate CEO’s with their multi-million dollar, pound or rupee contracts, topped up by ludicrous bonuses who, like fallen angels, usurp their corporate and social responsibility for personal power and greed and then get a golden parachute for their crimes.
Not so for the ‘small’ business owner who, especially in the early years, can sacrifice so much just to have that opportunity to achieve that special, personal vision. The dream itself, as it often starts that way, can appear in a moment of inspiration or be something that the individual entrepreneur has been ‘toying’ with for years.  It can be as simple as believing you’ve found a potential niche target market; or a unique or differentiated product or service offering; or just wanting to do something that’s ‘yours’.
We must never forget that it takes courage to start up a small business – giving up the certainty of a monthly salary payment (though some may rightly argue that there is no guarantee of that these days); the benefits that go with it, including paid holidays that you don’t have when you’re your own boss. Some may also argue that, these days, people are forced to start up a small business as job opportunities are so few and far between and it has nothing to do with ‘dreams’ and ‘visions’ but simple survival, and maybe in a sense that is true for some (a small few) – but it doesn’t detract from the courage it takes to make that first step and the commitment and sacrifice that is then required just to get the organisation going.
Most small business owners are fully tested along the way, in respect of their commitment to their dream – managing their time effectively, managing their cash flow, dealing with those few bad debts, learning to deal with disappointment, finding employees and suppliers they can trust and rely on, and most importantly trying to balance their family life, which can suffer in the early years. Since, as Peter Drucker said, "in every success story, you will find someone who has made a courageous decision."   
In fact the worst thing small business owners can do is to think small and think that being small takes less effort and is therefore easier than big business – as that will be your downfall. I would suggest that “it’s what’s in you, and what drives you” that will ultimately define if you are going to be a successful small business owner, since as Bill Gates said, “to win big, you sometimes have to take big risks.”
So a few basic tips would include;
1)     You need to quickly build the right support structure around you that you can ask for advice, where sometimes it may not be the advice you want to hear, but is the advice you need to be told. Since one of the few dangers of being a small business owner is that you can sometimes be driven by your heart rather than your head. 
2)     Don’t burn your bridges. As I was once told, treat everyone as if they were your priest. The only time that rule doesn’t apply is if you meet unethical people – which unfortunately will happen, then move on quickly and don’t sacrifice your values as it will sooner or later detract from your own brand and image.
3)     Accept that you will be disappointed along the way and that the goal is the ‘dream’ itself rather than a difficult point in time getting there.
4)     Don’t keep your stresses and concerns on the inside, be open with friends and family, as stress not only takes your eye off the ball, but ultimately affects your health as well.
5)     Never be jealous of other people’s success – as Ray Kroc said "press on. Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent."
6)     Then as I say to everyone – just enjoy the experience and the opportunity as you only live once.
"The size of your success is measured by the strength of your desire, the size of your dream and how you handle disappointment along the way." – Robert Kiyosaki

No comments:

Post a Comment