If you are about to step out on the path of business start-up, then you could be excused for thinking that the only route is left at Dragon’s Den, right at Alan Sugar’s boardroom and straight on until you reach the Bank of Megabucks. The impression created, not only by the media but government and even society, is that you are only a success if you are a start-up that will employ 10 people within the first six months of trading and have a turnover of £1 million by the end of your first financial year.
As an established business, talk of year-on-year growth and the need to expand premises, staff, production, vehicle fleet or any other area of your already-stretched organisation is enough to turn what bit of hair you haven’t pulled out over the years to a light shade of grey.
We are constantly exposed to high-profile entrepreneurs and encouraged to look to them for inspiration. In fairness, there is usually a small area of their story that motivates most people but in reality, a high percentage of micro-business owners are never going to have a business that turns over anywhere near the money they do – in fact, the majority of those who employ between 0 and 9 people do not even aspire to want to come close.
Many micro-business owners start out because they just want their business to ensure they have a lifestyle that allows them to do what they want to do and this does not need to be measured by business turnover – it can be measured in many different ways, such as the time we spend with our family, the difference we make to society, the number of holidays we have a year or just the sheer satisfaction of saying I am my own boss and I love it.
If you are a micro-business owner, no matter how hard you try, business and personal go hand in hand; your business is part of your life and your business plan should evolve from your life plan – be clear about how you want to spend your dash (if you have never read The Dash by Linda Ellis, I encourage you to do so!)
Do not set yourself ridiculous targets that are beyond your reach as you are likely to fall from the ladder when trying to get to them. Try something easy like ‘Today I will speak to five new people about my business’. That is a great way of marketing what you do and actually you could probably achieve that just by collecting the children from school, going to the pub or standing in the bus queue. At the end of the day when you have spoken to those five people, you can think: ‘Well that was a successful day, I achieved my target’.
Micro-business owners need to understand the difference they are making to the economy and how their business creation may only lead to one new job being created,- their own – but actually that is a positive move forward for the economic growth of a country. With over 4.5 million micro-business owners in the UK, that is an awful lot of people not claiming unemployment benefits. Those running micro-businesses that only employ themselves should be very proud, those employing others should be prouder still.
I urge you to reflect on what you are currently achieving if you are constantly aspiring for bigger and better things. Give yourself recognition for what you already accomplish on a daily basis. Success is not about turning over hundreds and thousands of pounds but ensuring you have enough customers to achieve your own personal survival income.
Once you have that, look at how you develop your business to bring additional benefits. Those benefits should make a difference to you, your family and those you care about; everyone will measure them in different ways so don’t be influenced by other people’s perception of success because doing ok is just great.
What do you think? Do you agree with Tina’s views that doing OK in businesses is an achievement in itself?