5 Painful Lessons for a Small Business Owner


I have been thinking for a few days, that your point of view truly makes all of the difference in the world. It occurs to me that there are two narratives related to my life.

The first is that I did not like where things were headed in my life, so I took steps to downsize, simplify, eliminate stress, and get healthy. That has been what was running through my head for months as I had gone through the process of moving from my house into an RV, moving from a large office suite into a smaller office (though my treatment room is much larger), and going on an Atkins diet to lose weight and get my blood sugar under control before it becomes a concern.

It occurs to the cynic in me, though, that there is an alternate view to this. I could view the steps that I have taken were because I screwed up, I was a business failure that got in over my head, couldn't keep up, got wildly overweight due to the stress and drinking too much, and finally ran away from my obligations.

While an argument can be made that both are true, the first is my truth. I did make a mistake in expanding my business. I did get in way over my head. I do not have any interest in managing staff (what a headache!). I did find that I was working constantly and felt as though I was drowning. The difference, though, was that rather than running away (God, did I want to!), I knew that I was the only one who could undo the disaster that I had created for myself. At times, I felt as though I was trying to turn a massive shipping boat away from a glacier before impact. [Related: I almost ran away today!]

So, how did I manage to pull through this?

1. Take care of your clients:
I knew that I could not cheat my clients. With no clients, there will never be a business. If I had just shut my doors, I would never have been able to start another business. With the internet, you cannot travel far enough to escape a bad name. As long as I found a way to satisfy my clients, I will remain a success.

2. This, too, shall pass:
I am not an overly religious person, but I have always known that even after a horrible, tragic event, there will be a tomorrow. The worst thing that could happen is I die, in which case, tomorrow won't matter, so I understand that this is just a crappy time, and I will get through it eventually.

3. Understand your motivation:
I understand my own personal morality. I always try to do what is ethically right. This is not to say that I have not done things that have harmed or hurt other people. I have. What I mean by this is that I always try to make up for my wrongs that I have committed. It may not be on their timetable, but I will eventually make it right to the best of my ability. When I screw up, I apologize, make amends to the best of my ability, and move on. Harboring ill will toward another is a foolish waste of energy. [Related: Phoenix Rising]

4. Know when to cut your losses:
Sometimes you just need to pick up your toys and go play somewhere else. The secret is knowing the right time to do so. If I have learned one thing out of all of this, it is knowing when to say, this isn't working, and move on. That includes people, situations, relationships, vendors, and even family, if that is a toxic situation. I have learned that unpleasant situations will continue until you have the strength and courage to end it. I have found that it is the fear of confrontation, far more than the actual event, that is the worst part. Usually, it ends up better for all parties concerned, when you just confront the problem. [Related: When Nothing is Certain, Everything is Possible]

5. Know when to give it up to God:
Again, this is not a religious post. God may be Spirit, The Universe, your Guardian Angels, your magic spells, or just a prayer to the ether. The point is, sometimes you just have run out of options and scenarios, and you have to give up. When that happens, it is like the Universe steps in with solutions. I suppose it is almost like what we do with our children. We let them exhaust themselves trying to figure something out, and then we guide them when they lose their way. It has only been when I was at my wits end, that a solution finally presented itself. Don't be afraid to ask. [Related: It's Time to Create My Future]

Running a small business can be daunting, but by being clear on your motives and keeping a positive outlook, it can be the most rewarding endeavor you have ever undertaken.

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