Being a business owner is incredibly lonely. I am reminded of this daily, when I have no one but myself to turn to when it comes to tough decisions. No one cuts you slack and no one cares about your ‘feelings’.
Your significant other will not know the crushing pressure you feel when looking at finances, dealing with employee issues, clients, payroll, accounts receivable, accounts payable, insurance, telephones, equipment, technology, property management, growth, culture…you get the drift. They will say you internalize things and you need better work/life balance. What they don’t understand is that doesn’t exist when you own a business. The business doesn’t stop because you have decided you need a vacation or a ‘timeout’.
Here is what I want you to understand about business owners.
- We have tough exteriors. We are tough so people don’t smell weakness and take advantage of us. We look confident but in reality we beat ourselves up about every decision, mistake, failure and critique.
- We choose to do what we do because we truly believe we can make a difference. Sure it sounds cheesy and idyllic and perhaps it is but the fact is there wouldn’t be entrepreneurs or inventors if we were all realists.
- We have feelings. When we are criticized by competitors, clients, employees, vendors, etc. it hurts. It truly hurts. It may seem silly, but we want to be liked. If I was as tough as I looked, I wouldn’t have 4 dogs and donate to every gofundme page that pops up in my newsfeed.
- We’re lonely. If I didn’t have other business owners to commiserate with, I couldn’t do this. I would never had made it without my fellow business owner and best friend, Sue. It’s not like we got a how-to guide when we started our business.
- We’re a little like wild animals. We are fiercely loyal and protective. This means we have to make really shitty decisions sometimes that others view as shotgun or surprising. What you don’t know is the agonizing thought and sleepless nights that we endured prior to making the ‘surprising’ decision.
If you see a business owner on the street, give them a hug (not me though – don’t hug me). They could really use it. Better yet, tell them they’re doing a good job.
What a wonderful article and really truly does spell out the day to day of a small business owner. The comment about significant other is really true. When it comes to small business decision significant should just be left off the qualifier. Thanks for articulating this day to day so well.