I came from a family of small business owners. Years ago, growing up, my dad owned a toy store, one of the first toy-specific stores in the area.
My dad’s specialty toy store was before the days of large discount houses. My dad and mom made running a small business, their life, and livelihood.
I caught the small business bug early. At the young age of ten years old, I found the thrill of being an entrepreneur.
I had amassed a sizable collection of comic books. Back in 1960, comic books and Mad Magazine were trendy. All the kids wanted to read them. I had piles of them collecting dust in a closet.
So, I took my ‘inventory’ and started a business renting the comic books I collected to the kids in the neighborhood. A penny a day or a nickel a week, as I recall.
As I think back on it now, why did I choose to rent vs. sell the comics?
Recurring income. As a small business owner, I realized that I could earn more per comic book by renting and more than pay for the cost of the original purchase if it was destroyed.
Running a small business has been in my blood for my entire life ever since.
Today, I challenged myself to consider what is my favorite part of the small business process.
I couldn’t narrow it down to just one, so I am sharing with you my favorite parts (plural) of running a small business.
Self-brainstorming and creative thinking
Often you’ll see brainstorming talked about as a group discussion.
The Business Dictionary defines brainstorming as a process for generating creative ideas and solutions through intensive and freewheeling group discussion.
Every participant is encouraged to think aloud and suggests as many ideas as possible, no matter seemingly how outlandish or bizarre.
Analysis, discussion, or criticism of the aired ideas is allowed only when the brainstorming session is over and evaluation session begins.
That is a traditional definition; however, as a small business owner, you’re likely to be an executive and management staff of one.
Self-brainstorming is a fun activity that can unleash a torrid of creative thinking and unique ideas.
Here’s how I use self-brainstorming to inspire creative thinking.
I use Evernote to keep my brainstorming ideas organized. I have a notebook called “Brainstorming.” Anytime I have an idea, I type in or audio record the thought and save it into my online notebook. It then becomes searchable so I can find and remember anything I add to Evernote.
I have done the same process with a journal; handwriting the ideas as they come to me. I even captured images I want to recall on my smartphone and printed them to add to my journal.
The important thing is to have one notebook or one online location to keep your ideas.
Don’t intermingle self-brainstorming notes with other notes, ideas, and images that you want to track and remember.
Start the brainstorming session by setting aside a specific amount of time, for example, one hour.
Get away from the distractions of work, find a quiet place, and relax for a minute or two.
Open your notebook or journal and write down the question you want to explore.
Then let your mind wander and write down every inspiration you receive.
Think of as many ideas as you possibly can. Don’t judge them; just let them flow.
Once you’re complete, end the session officially, with yourself.
Once you have ended the brainstorming portion of the session, you can review your list of many ideas.
Isolate the list of many ideas down to the few you’ll explore further through the evaluation.
Then evaluate each idea you keep and select one to commit to accomplishing.
Taking action on your unique ideas will pay handsome dividends when done consistently.
Holding myself accountable to the toughest boss I’ve ever worked for
I’ll tell you; there are days that guy I work for can be a real slave driver. His expectations sometimes feel unrealistic. Honestly, my boss can be a real SOB at times.
If I make a commitment to a task or action in our company brainstorming session and I don’t get that critical task completed there can be hell to pay.
Then at other times, my boss is very insightful. He compliments me for my accomplishments. He’s generous, and I share in the rewards of company success.
However, when YOU are your boss, this is what days can feel like; rewarding at times and challenging at times.
As the boss, you must hold yourself accountable for completing tasks and actions you commit to accomplishing.
You’re the CEO. Your shareholders, like your family, and people who gave you loans to start your business, are counting on you to make the business profitable.
As front-line, executive manager, you will want to break down projects into small step tasks. Then hold yourself accountable to each step in the task until the project is completed.
Some days this is a hard balancing act to be responsible for; I admit it.
When you hold yourself accountable to company profitability, manage yourself well, and serve as a good steward of value delivery to clients at the same time, accomplishment is the result.
Accomplishment; the elixir of personal satisfaction
Small business offers a height of achievement that a job can never reach.
The heights that accomplishment from succeeding in your own business takes you to is beyond anything else you can experience any other way.
I think of it as an elixir of satisfaction. You take one sip from the well of success, and that feeling of accomplishment will propel you to stay in the game for more of that powerful feeling from then on.
There is nothing like the feeling of creating a value that you envision and building a business from that value.
When you see your business take root, grow, then reach heights you dreamed of, you experience a feeling that will inspire you to press forward, create new values, and expand to greater heights.
Success in business is a byproduct of accountability. You plan, act, and achieve. That small business success accomplishment is like no other feeling in the world.
The thrill of serving the needs of others
I talked about value creation in a recent article on a strategy for business development. Value is the tangible difference you make with every client you serve.
It’s a thrill to see the difference your business makes in the lives of other people.
When you hear them tell you about the difference your business made in their life (or business), you’ll experience a warmth surge through you.
As human beings, we are motivated and excited when we create a value that helps another person.
Sure, you may not think of what you do as thrilling.
However, you’ll have to admit when a client gives you accolades and expresses appreciation and gratitude for the work you did, there is something in that expression that gives you a thrill.
Growing your business and using it in service to help other people in some way is a key to the door of extreme satisfaction.
It is a thrill to serve other people with your small business.
No matter what you do or the business you’re in, the point of your business is to create values that enhance lives in some way.
There is no greater thrill than hearing, “Job well done” from a happy client.
Make the day-to-day rewarding
We go to bed and wake up and go to bed and wake up – then repeat that every day for years.
Running a small business is one of the most rewarding (and challenging) things you can do in those waking hours.
Make everyday count.
- Make the mundane rewarding with brainstorming and creative thinking
- Hold yourself accountable to the toughest boss you may ever work for
- Drink the elixir of accomplishment daily.
- See the thrill of serving other people through your business.
I’ll challenge you to leave a comment. Lets me and other readers know YOUR favorite part of running a small business.
I’d love to hear from you. If you have questions on any aspect of this article, please feel free to leave them as a comment.
Running a small business is a remarkable journey. Please share your favorite part(s) in the comment section below.
A special thanks to Quickbooks and their #QBAmbassadors program for inspiring this article.