For The Birds

Sitting at a table near the window at a local Starbucks I notice a bird picking out food from between the paving stones near the outside tables and it occurs to me that I’m a lot like that bird.

I’m the smallest type of small business owners out there.

My business is the size of one, me.

No one else helps to make my pottery.  No one else has responsibility for marketing or online listings or bookkeeping or staffing the booth at shows.  It’s just me.  All me running this business I have here.

It’s completely freeing to be a sole proprietor of my own business.

I make all the decisions, so there are no disagreements.  Politics is once again Democrat vs Republican instead of the back deals made at the water cooler.

I get to set my schedule and calendar.  If I want to spend all day taking photographs of my work while sitting in the sunshine I can.  If I want to grocery shop in the middle of the day and work all night I can.

Of course, all of that freedom comes with a price.  I often feel like that bird I saw out the window hunting and pecking for any small morsel.  Any scrap of business.

I’ve learned an enormous amount about myself and running a business during the past two and a half years.  The things I’ve learned have made it easier for me to survive in this lifestyle (because it is a lifestyle).

Its not about what your business means to the rest of the world, but what your business is to you that matters.  You have to be passionate about the work you’re doing.  Its the only way to continue plowing through everything that needs to be accomplished.

Try new things.  You’re going to have grand ideas and some or maybe even all of them will fail.  That’s just a part of life and the never ending learning process that goes hand and hand with entrepreneurship.  Don’t be afraid to go back to the drawing board.  Seek out opportunities to learn from others and don’t be afraid to try something counter intuitive.

Even if you think you know everything, you don’t.

Figure out a process.  It doesn’t have to follow any business or time management guru’s steps to success, but it does need to work for you.  The tasks you think aren’t important can become so in a hurry if ignored.

Force yourself to take time off at least a day here or there.  It feels strange at first and you might have a hard time actually relaxing, but do it.  The problems about to overwhelm you will magically seem more manageable afterwards.

Take time to write out your vision and goals for your business.  Be specific, thought out and realistic.  Its not enough to say you want to make money or take over the world or save the children.  What does that look like and mean to you (i.e., vision)?  What do you need to accomplish to get there (i.e., goals)?  Even Brain had a plan each night when he tried to take over the world.

Measure and review your progress.  This can be one of the more depressing things to do (you’ll really feel like that bird), but you need to know where things are working and where they aren’t.  It can also provide opportunities for you to refine your vision and goals as necessary.

Go do it.  Even if you’re not positive if its perfect or exactly right yet, put your business out there.  Its better to begin than never start.

bird

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