Happy New Year Everyone!
Looking back…..to the early 90’s
A Small Business Owner – One Woman’s Perspective
The phone was ringing off the wall, there was someone banging on the front door, there was an invoice on my desk that was over 60 days and my partner has just exercised the shot gun clause in our partnership agreement. Welcome to the world of small business!
It was not really a very different day than most, except for the fact that my partner had decided to go back to raising her family. Small business was fine for awhile – it just wasn’t something she could devote the rest of her life to.
“Devote your life to a company, become a small business owner.” you say, “Come on, it isn’t really all that difficult.”
Think again, when you start a small business and you want to be successful, you have to be willing to forsake all others…….it’s almost like getting married. When you have to make major decisions, the bottom line is being able to decide what’s most important, the family or the business. Believe it or not, there will be times when you have to make that decision and it isn’t always one you’ll like. I don’t mean that you would not always choose your family in an emergency situation, but when it comes to a decision over being at a family event, or handling a company situation where time is of the essence – the business wins!
Hey, look at me, I was an ordinary woman, at the time I started my first small business, I had a husband, two teenage children, and a good education. We were living in the country, because we chose to change our lifestyle – it was getting too hectic in the city and we wanted our children to experience the responsibility of living in a rural community.
People called living here “utopia”. It was a great place for the kids, they had horses and snowmobiles, and they had plenty of clean living friends. My husband was happy in his job, and he had a group of men friends that got together to do what city guys, turned country guys do.
They cut wood, everyone had wood burning fireplaces, and it was a status symbol – he who had the biggest, best stacked woodpile, won. They cut the grass on their riding mowers, and compared who had the most grass to cut and how quickly they could get it done! They volunteered to help each other, to build a new shed, tear down an old one or just work on some guy project together. There was plenty of camaraderie, and life was good as far as my husband was concerned.
What about me? Well, I was a member several local organizations, I was active in my community. I had several interesting jobs since we arrived here, but nothing that really provided me with the challenges I wanted. I had always been the type of person that sees something just a little better around the next corner. I was always looking for my next project, my next job.
Little did I realize that when I found that next job it would be as a partner in a small business – where I would get engaged to it, marry it, live with it, go through a separation and finally in the end, I would be divorced from it.
There are plenty of books on how to handle all these areas when it comes to a marriage, but no one has every likened a small business partnership or small business ownership to marriage. There needs to be a book written on how to handle each stage and how to survive and thrive when it is finally over.
Owning a small business can be the most incredible learning experience in your life.
For me, it was an exhilarating ride, with plenty of positive, profitable experiences. But it wasn’t without problems, the agony of not knowing if you could meet the next payroll, or how to handle the problem of defective raw materials, or even to control the shrinkage that seemed to be part of owning a small business.
Being in business for yourself is the toughest job in the world – you are answerable to your biggest critic – and if you can’t come up with the right answers, who can?
I learned as the business grew. I’m happy to share what I did right, and what I did wrong. My experiences are a roadmap for those considering small business as your next job.
My first business was a template for small business in its time. The rules of engagement were different then. We were the largest employer in a small community, we had visibility, we had passion and we were successful, in spite of ourselves.
I still remember the laughter and the tears of those incredibly special days when a city woman, turned country girl began the most memorable journey of her entire life. To experience my journey click on the link – http://www.connectuscanada.com/2ndchance
Looking forward – it’s 2015
Where am I today? I am still an entrepreneur, I am still in business and I’m still waiting for those cheques to come in! Business has changed, today there is more “social media” than face to face encounters, but I still need to be able to know who I know in order to use the leverage I need to keep my business afloat!
Do I have partners? Not officially, but I am always collaborating with professional men and women who want to find ways to work together.
My kids are grown and very successful. I have grandkids that are going to be equally successful. My list of friends has grown dramatically and I constantly thank God for so many wonderful relationships.
Today, I’m actively involved with Rotary Club and work with many not for profit organizations. I mentor foreign trained professionals through Sheridan College and take interns from local high schools to get the credits they need to move forward. I speak professionally; I share inspirational stories and relevant resources with almost everyone I meet.
What have I learned that will help me move forward successfully in 2015?
It’s simple – I need to be visible, to be credible, and ultimately to be profitable. So I write and I use social media wisely. While it might seem easy, it takes work, I need to who I know and what I know about them. I need to use that knowledge for the benefit of not just me, but those who are part of my network. True collaboration is when both sides benefit from the alliance. I’m part of an incredible community that supports each other.
So for 2015, I am guessing that the phone will still be ringing off the wall, and there will be someone banging on my office door. I know that there will definitely be an invoice on my desk that is over 60 days and I will be still running that small business and loving it!
Donna Messer is an author, speaker and trainer, the founder of Orange Crate, a small business that grew dramatically. The company was used as a case study for MBA programs in universities across the country. Today she owns and operates a communications company called ConnectUs.
I invite you to join me on LinkedIn if you use social media. I’m also on Twitter and Facebook!