I was really large when I was almost 31 years old. I was specifically swollen in the stomach region with the inflammation of twins growing rapidly. Even six months pregnant, I was thinking about running a business. It may be that I had been on bed rest for 3 months already and couldn’t wait to get out of bed and be productive. Not that carrying twins isn’t a worthy cause.
My annual review at my job was due and from home I called my boss and asked him if he would schedule it. (I was a workaholic then, now in recovery, but that is another story.) I really was using this as an excuse to tell him I wanted to run something. Just because I was having my second and third child, I didn’t want to be counted out.
By this point in my career I had been in finance, marketing and was now the Corporate Controller. I could round out my experience by running an operating division. I just needed to know what I needed to do to be ready when the opportunity came up.
I can only imagine what was going through my boss’ head as I waddled in to the kitchen to sit next to him. (Don’t judge. I swore I would never waddle, but lo and behold, it is a physiological impossibility not to as you close in on delivery).
The Moment I Disclosed My Entrepreneurial Spirit
This moment in my kitchen in August of 1995 I first disclosed my entrepreneurial spirit. I had always worked for relatively big companies but I just knew I wanted to run something. And not just run a business, but be a part of starting and growing it.
I had the foundational ingredients of an entrepreneur:
- I was interested in all of the “working on the business” aspects of running a business. It can be coffee houses, counseling centers, churches, or an industrial service; they all interest me. Why? Figuring out how to make the business run well and grow is the fascinating part to me.
- I like to start new things. The beauty of the entrepreneurial spirit is the sheer delight of creating something new. The frustration to others is that we don’t find maintaining them quite as compelling.
- I want to know that the strategies and plans I put in place can generate growth. The idea of building something and hoping people will come has never appealed to me. I don’t want to be at the whim of the economy, one big customer, or sheer luck. I want to figure out the opportunity, put a plan in place to go after it, and then execute to achieve it.
- Working in my business as a coach for a pretty long time.
- As a coach, helping others to start and grow businesses. I get to work with twenty or so businesses at a time in all different phases of development. That keeps my entrepreneurial spirit soaring.
Once my entrepreneurial spirit was birthed, the same year as my twins, I couldn’t go back. I opened thirty coffee houses for this company, went on to run a restaurant and open a second one, helped launch a church, created a small group ministry, created a counseling ministry, started my own counseling practice, launched a coaching practice from the counseling, and now have the perfect assignment of helping entrepreneurs and small business owners start and grow their businesses.
I believe that God gave me my entrepreneurial spirit, but he also had to wait a few decades to reveal it to me. He knew I needed a strong business foundation to do what I do. He knew it needed to be deep experiences, not shallow study.
Small Business Owner, Entrepreneur, or Both?
I have learned that owning a small business and being an entrepreneur can be different, although they often overlap. Some people own a small business but they are not entrepreneurs. They just happen to own the business that they get to do the work that they are passionate about. Many times small business owners love what they do because it was a heart vision….a dancer who opens a dance studio, an accountant who works for himself, a car repair shop owner who likes to fix things.
In a way, I am both. I have now had my coaching business for ten years. I realized I love helping others start and grow businesses as much as I like doing it myself. This fills both needs for me.
The Entrepreneurial Piece in My Business
Where does the entrepreneurial piece come into my own business?
I think for me it is in growing it. I started out part-time, by myself, just really working in my business. After all, I needed time to raise these 3 children. But that wasn’t enough. I grew until I needed to add people. Then we offered new services. We added more people. We needed more space. We moved. We grew some more.
At my age with the twins graduating college in a few months, you would think I was ready to slow down. The thing is that for me, slowing my business down isn’t fun. Last year, my goal was to not really grow a lot, but to shift work to others on the team. But I couldn’t stand it. I reverted back to trying to grow and we did. We grew 24% in 2017.
As I launch all of my kids into independent adulthood in 2018, I am wondering what is the next thing. I am pondering our strategies. Do we create new spinoffs from Crossroads, do we just grow because now we are no longer taking care of babies, or do I try to pull myself out of the operations of Crossroads and position myself to start something totally new in the coming years?
The point is I can’t just keep doing the same thing at the same speed. As much as I love the small business we have created, I am an entrepreneur at heart.
What about you? Are you a small business owner or an entrepreneur?