When you enter the small business world, you should be aware of a developing trend, pushing newbies toward fast growth. The expectation from learning institutions, government sponsored small business support programs, investors, and many non-profits in the veteran entrepreneur field, is that the next disruptive innovator or stunning technology causing cultural change is waiting to be revealed by a veteran founder.
In short, we have become spoiled into believing that only groundbreaking, fast, trailblazing companies are worthy of recognition. Hooey. Start by defining success for the average small business owner. Is it one who grows and expands his or her operations quickly? A recent report by Emergent Research and Infusionsoft found that “becoming a big business” doesn’t equal success for most small business owners.
“The vast majority of people … believe that most small businesses want to grow and become big businesses,” Steve King, a partner at Emergent Research, wrote in a blog post about the report. “This belief is driven mostly by the vast amount of media coverage high growth small businesses and their owners get.” Publications like Foundr, Fast Growth, and Inc., among others, stoke the fire with feature stories about outlandish successes by unicorn startups…as if anyone can and should join the party.
Based on the responses of 400 small business owners, the Emergent Research and Infusionsoft report revealed that the majority (88 percent) are neither inspired nor driven to build large empires, and don’t want to simply grow for growth’s sake. “Many small business owners tell us they consider themselves an outlier because they aren’t interested in growing into a big business. They often are surprised when we tell them this attitude is common,” wrote King.
Here’s a shocker. According to the report, non-financial goals are just as, if not more, important than financial ones. Survey respondents stated that doing work they enjoy; being their own boss; work flexibility, freedom and control; and having a positive impact on their employees, customers and community make them feel successful.
The common misconception is small business owners define success by financial rewards. This is not the case.
Micro businesses, mom and pop shops, and small operators are the backbone of the American economy. People still need landscaping, a plumber, a great sandwich, a hair color job, and childcare. Some businesses are impervious to rapid growth. They just like it manageable and small.
Entrepreneurs certainly face many challenges, even if they are a one-man-band (or one-woman let us not forget). Emergent Research and Infusionsoft’ s report offered some recommendations for small business owners who want to achieve success on a small scale.
Define success on your own terms. “In most cases, the growth goal is modest and the financial targets are important, but secondary to other objectives,” wrote King. Growth objectives for a small business owner should be created in a way that supports your broader life goals, and only the business owner can define that. So, get real and start by managing your own expectations.
Take challenges one step at a time. Your key business challenges will change as your business moves through different stages of growth. The changes in business challenges may require a change in the way the business is managed, so it’s important to be adaptable. Flexibility often makes the difference between not only success, but survival.
Plan, but not too far out. Don’t get ahead of yourself. Be where you are.
Ask for help. Many entrepreneurs fail because they 1) don’t want to pay for help, or 2) think they know everything. Seek coaching, mentoring, education and training not only for you, but for your employees as well. Watch out for the trap of listening to too many voices, which can cause confusion. Find someone you trust and stick with them.
Don’t be afraid of technology. Technology can help you interact more effectively with employees, customers and prospects, save time and improve efficiency by automating processes, and improve business performance through analytics. But, don’t overdo it with technology either. It’s easy to be enticed by seductive sales pitches on how every new shiny thing is going to make business life a breeze. It won’t. Automation can be a siren’s call, encouraging you to think you the old values of strong customer service, integrity, and personal communication don’t count in this technology driven world.
Vicki Garcia is the Co-Founder of Veteran Entrepreneurs Today & President of Marketing Impressions. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org, register for free coaching at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/veteransinbiz . Join us on our Meetup at www.veteransinbiz.com