As we approach our first (and hopefully only) COVID Quarantine Thanksgiving here in the United States, I wanted to take some time this week to express my gratitude for all those folks who have influenced my path in becoming an entrepreneur.
As I’m sure you all know, making a decision to “hang your shingle” 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!
Is it possible that the personality traits of a business owner are genetic?
When I think back to my college days and what kind of work life I expected to have, I can honestly say that I hadn’t thought at all about running my own business, despite my familial connections to entrepreneurialism.
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?
I am grateful for my very first customer, right after I quit my teaching job and ventured out there as a consultant about 15 years ago. I still remember that engagement and was so proud and excited when that small business owner connected with me many years later to say that he still had my report and it had definitely helped him grow his business.
And I know I wouldn’t be making nearly as much progress this year if it wasn’t for my amazing mastermind group! Our weekly discussions and monthly work sessions ensure that I devote the time to growing my business without getting distracted. They make sure that I focus on my passion for helping businesses grow, and not just on all the raw data and industry reports I like to read. (See my blog post on personality traits for more about that!)
What are your own memories of starting your business? Who helped you along the way? And who is still helping you?
This Thanksgiving holiday is going to be a little different for a lot of us. So if you have some extra time on your hands, because you’re just cooking a turkey breast (or making a turkey sandwich!), or because you don’t have a house full of family, then take some time to be grateful for what you do have.
Who has helped you grow your business? Who stood up for you as a referral source, consultant or first customer when you first got started? Who do you rely on now for support, accountability or problem-solving when you run into challenging times, like we are all dealing with this year?
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. Your support and feedback helps feed my passion for working with small businesses. Thank you and Happy Thanksgiving!