Who helped you launch your business? Who keeps you going as you work to constantly learn and grow as a business owner? This Thanksgiving, it’s time to be grateful for our fellow small business owners and all those who support us in our ventures.
This month on LinkedIn, I have focused on gratitude. Each day I have identified and thanked someone I have worked with in the past. These are friends and associates that have helped me grow my business – and who also share my passion for working with and supporting small business owners like you.
It’s been a terrific trip down memory lane, as I think about my own path from big company employment, to teaching in a large university, to starting my own little consulting company. My main goal when I first started was to have the flexibility to spend time with my small children while still bringing in some income and keeping my brain active. And now my nest is empty, and I am busy expanding my services to reach out to more small business owners.
As I’m sure you all know, making a decision to quit a job and venture out as a business owner is one that is rarely made alone. It requires the support of mentors, peers, associates, and of course, family members.
In my case, the entrepreneurial spirit runs deep, including my father, who ran his own business, my mother, who helped train business owners, and my brother, who also runs his own business.
And then there’s my husband, who quit his job to start a new business with some partners – on the very day that our son was born! Seemed like crazy timing, but we were young, and he was ready for a new adventure. And now, he’s continuing on in another venture that he works to grow, as I do the same with my business.
I also recently learned that my great-grandfather, U.S. Representative William S. Hill, introduced the bill that established the Small Business Administration in 1953. Pretty cool!
Who are you grateful for?
For those of you who run your own business, think back to how you got started, and who was influential in helping you.
You likely had to rely on family members for emotional support, and possibly for financial support as well. Who else was influential in the beginning? Did you get support from a local government agency like the Small Business Development Center? Or some extra hands-on support from your local commercial banker?
And I imagine that I’m not the only one who became even more devoted to working for myself as a result of unsatisfactory work experiences and overuse of crazy corporate buzzwords at large companies. Those first big-company positions gave me lots of learning opportunities about what to do and what not to do when running an organization. I was also fortunate to have several years of teaching in the College of Business at our local University, which definitely helped me improve my speaking skills, my ability to explain complex concepts in multiple ways, and my recognition of the value of storytelling to aid in learning.
Where did you acquire some of the necessary skills to run your business? What did you learn in preparation (planned or not) for becoming a business owner – and what did you learn on the fly? And who was there helping you learn, get started and grow your business? Consider reaching out to thank them – I found it really lifted the spirits of the people I thanked!
And also think about paying it forward by offering your support to a new business owner. How could you help someone just getting started? Can you make some helpful introductions? Provide a testimonial to a new business you are working with? Or serve in the role of mentor?
Here’s the thing – when it comes to starting and growing your business, we all need a little help from time to time. And research has shown that people love to help! When you help someone else, it makes you feel appreciated and helps connect you to that person. The same is true when you are on the receiving end of the help.
That is the value of our small business peers. We are all in it together – so why not ask for help when we need it, and offer help when we can?
I think it’s safe to say that any business owner who has voluntarily surrendered his or her W2 income, signed a Personal Guarantee at the bank, or navigated the complex and expensive world of health insurance will gladly help you get through the same hurdles.
It takes a special person to make the decision to start or run a small business, and we can all benefit from sticking together. This Thanksgiving season is the perfect time to think about who your supporters were as you got started – and thank them!
Also consider who you rely on now for support, accountability or problem-solving when you run into challenging times, like we are all dealing with this year? They deserve your gratitude as well.
And can you seek out other new business owners to serve as a mentor or support to them, so that they will add you to their Gratitude list?
I am thankful for everyone who has taken the time to read this post – and all the others I have shared since I started writing in May 2020. Your support and feedback help feed my passion for working with small businesses. Thank you and Happy Thanksgiving!
Don’t think you can spare 15 minutes? Check out the 15/150 Challenge to find time each month to focus on working on your business rather than in your business through peer accountability.
My passion is to help growth-minded entrepreneurs like you find ways to plan for your version of a successful future. I do this through courses, consulting, and a community of like-minded people. Reach out for a free ½ hour conversation if you’re curious to learn more!