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The crazy that is small business

It will be 10 years for 834 Design & Marketing this fall. Some of those years I would like to forget, there was a lot of failure, frustration and drinking ?. People keep telling me that 10 years is a milestone, quite honestly…I’m just happy I managed to retain most of my sanity.

I was just asked the other day what it takes to be a business owner. Besides being slightly off your rocker, I came up with the below.

  1. Self-awareness. Know your strengths and weaknesses and don’t be afraid to admit them. Every single employee at 834, has strengths or abilities I don’t possess. I hired them because they are smart, capable and driven. If you feel threatened by that, then you shouldn’t be leading or running a business.
  2. Willingness. You will do whatever needs to be done. That means, every employee you hire or plan to hire is doing a job you have done at some point. This also applies to interns. If you ask them to take out garbage or run a vacuum, then you sure as hell better be willing to do it yourself. It is a team effort and if you position yourself on a throne, no one will respect you and they sure as hell won’t work hard for you.
  3. Toughness. You are going to get the shit kicked out of you throughout your business journey. I threw in the towel at one point and went to work for a client, it lasted 9 months. It was also the best thing that I could ever have done, because I realized I am not cut out for the corporate world or working for someone else. See #1, self-awareness.
  4. Embrace humility. I am self-deprecating to a fault. I do it because it seems to set people at ease and I don’t want anyone to ever think that I walk around like an egotistical asshole. In fact, just in the last few years, I finally allowed myself to admit that I am good at my job and that 834 is a great company. My point is, never think you are better than anyone else, not your competitors, not your employees, not your waiter…no one.
  5. Seek out crazy. Find other business owners, because no one else will understand what you are going through. Not your spouse, friends or family. This is a lonely, scary, exhilarating journey and you will need support.
  6. Trust your gut. The times I have ignored my gut, I have made some really stupid calls. If you really listen to your instincts, you will be better off.

Never stop dreaming and never give up. Perseverance and just being damn stubborn has carried me through when times were hardest. If you fail, try again. Business owners aren’t afraid of failure, they embrace it and learn from it.


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Hi, I'm Kim!
Writer of musings.

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