Recently, I lost my job from a small internet company that went under. Also recently I have started a job from an internet company startup that lo-and-behold has actually made a large name for themselves (more on this great company later).
With this recent job perspective, like most people when they lose a job, I started thinking about what I really wanted to do with myself. Was it time for a career change? Well I didn’t really change much except I dropped the romance column that I’ve written for the last 5 years. It was time and the magazine;s new owners were embracing a direction I didn’t particularly agree with. But beyond that I am taking on a role similar to the one I just left (although this one is way more awesome and the company is a bazillion times cooler/more stable – shout out to JESS3 – check out http://www.JESS3.com).
To further my relationship with small business, my father (he is really my step father but that doesn’t really fit the bill with what his role has been in my life), he started his own landscaping business when he was 13. Dropping out of college to fulfill the work load, and then at one point being $40,000 in debt, he is now the owner and founder of 3 or 4 different businesses he has started. At one point when he was dating my mom (a single parent of 3) I remember them counting out how much our breakfasts cost before school in order to figure out which was cheapest between eggs, cereal, frozen waffles, and french toast sticks.
He worked it to wear our french toasts sticks, with syrup, butter, and whatever else cost us about 7 cents a stick. Needless to say we ate these every day for like a year… and I haven’t had one since. There was a point when I would smell them in the oven cooking for breakfast I’d start gagging. Haha, you can only have so many defrosted french toast sticks before you call it a day.
My dad’s landscaping business ended up being the core of his success. He has now flown all over Texas to help with landscape design and just about anything else regarding outdoor spaces. It is inspiring really.
So as I was watching Warren Buffett on MSNBC this morning celebrating the Goldman Sachs 1,000 Small Businesses Program, they got into a few of the key components a small business owner must have in order to be successful. I haven’t started a small business… yet. However I have seen my dad’s and my current employer’s be largely successful. I have also seen a small business be a large financial failure. What Warren said remains true from where I’m looking,
Take care of your customers, and your customers will take care of you.
The man knows what he is talking about. Go figure. A few other successful tips that I agreed with were:
- Know who you are
- Know what you can do
- Stay confident
- Don’t lose control
- Don’t leverage yourself
Given the recent numbers posted by the federal reserve on the 40% decline on the American family’s net worth (article here from Politico), I would recommend we all try and consider starting a small business. Maybe not all of us. But those who can, they should. Something has to change, and a small business initiative might just be our light at the end of the tunnel.