Small Business Ownership Is Lonely (And Why It Has To Be)
Entrepreneurship can definitely be a lonely road. For a long (long) time while you build a viable business, there are continual nagging questions of whether you’ve made the right choice and if the business will ever be successful.
Small Business Owners have to start somewhere
When we first get into small business ownership, we all want to believe that it is just going to take off, that customers will flock to us, and we will hit a home run right out of the gate. And while that is the case for some new small businesses, rationally of course, we know that’s not likely to happen. Ever heard the saying “it takes 20 years to become an overnight success?” That’s probably closer to the reality for most small business owners.
On a recent episode of The Business Over Beer Podcast, we were joined by musician, Tara Tinsley, who was a very shy girl growing up. Despite her shyness, she really wanted to be a singer, and has done so professionally for almost two decades. And while she feels that some of her early work wasn’t that great, she said, “we all have to start somewhere.”
The same is true for small business owners. It’s ok if you are not a true overnight success, few of us are. In order to become a true professional, you must put in the work, day after day, year after year, to learn your craft, to build new skills that complement your craft, and have the courage not to give up. In Tara Tinsley’s case, she knew that being a great singer wasn’t enough. She took an improv acting to help her overcome her natural shyness and it also helped her build performance skills that are necessary for a live musician. What are some skills you could develop that would help you run your business?
Even as you watch other small business owners throw in the towel, you can’t take that on, or compare their situation to yours. Don’t give in. Don’t give up. It’s about knowing where your own deficiencies lie, and if you don’t let them hold you back, the process of building your business will be that much more rewarding.
Don’t take compliments to heart
No one will love your small business as much as you do. Not your customers. Not your spouse. Not your employees. No one. It’s just you against the world. For that reason, being the owner will get lonely at times.
And, that’s how it has to be.
Feedback is important. Working on continuous improvement is a key component of success. Testimonials and reviews are critical marketing tools.
But don’t take it all too much to heart, which is to say, do not allow what other people say about you, positive or negative, define your self worth. For example, when Tara Tinsley gets positive feedback about a song or a show she just played, she feels gratitude saying, “I am so glad that’s how you are experiencing me,” but she doesn’t rely on praise from others to keep going or build herself up, if she does, then any negative feedback will have the same effect of pulling her too far down.
There’s power in the loneliness. Remember your business is yours to do with it what you want. Be very grateful for those who have a great experience with your product or service. Look for ways to improve when you receive a negative review. Evaluate criticism from your own lens, knowing it was giving from someone else’s distinct point of view.
Do not let it define you.
You are building a business that you want to look back on years from now, just as Tara Tinsley has done from her journey, where you can’t imagine doing anything else.