By Michael Gunther
National Small Business Week is May 5th to 11th this year. This week is a great reminder to us all to shop local and support small businesses. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, there are 28.8 million small businesses in America employing 56.8 million people. I’m proud to lead one of those small businesses, and even more proud of the impact we at Collaboration make on other small businesses in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and on the Central Coast of California.
While small businesses contribute greatly to the American economy, being a small business owner is challenging. It’s important to remember your ‘why’ when the going gets tough, because oftentimes that’s the only thing to get you out of bed in the morning and put in those long, sometimes lonely, hours. Every small business has a unique motivation that drives owners to roll up their sleeves and get the job done. What’s your why?
As you contemplate yours, I’ll share mine. Many of you know that I grew up in a large household; there were 17 of us kids and, not surprisingly, there wasn’t a ton of money to spend on each child’s personal whim. So, in order to pay for activities, comic books, and any other extras, we had to get creative in ways to earn money. My parents instilled the entrepreneurial spirit in me. My best friend growing up, Sal Competelli, joined me in my endeavors. We were always creating new businesses, from lemonade stands and carnivals to neighborhood newspapers and even Mic-Sal’s Donuts. We may not have made a lot of money in our ventures, but the entrepreneurial bug bit us both and we’re both business owners today (only now on a little larger scale).
Unbeknownst to me at the time, my parents gave me a head start in business. They provided me with fundamental attributes and systems that I learned to love at a very young age and have carried forward to my career. Looking back, I realize that my passion to help others succeed — to create processes, to be good managers and leaders, to build strong teams, to understand financials — are lessons I learned from my parents. Teaching lessons to other entrepreneurs brings me great happiness and fulfillment in the form of memories, both old and new.
When I went on to form Collaboration Business Consulting, I started with my core ambition of strengthening my community. I viewed starting a business consulting firm as a way to support others, and I find great joy in sharing my entrepreneurial spirit and knowledge with others. It’s satisfying to see our clients develop their businesses and themselves, in turn igniting the local economy and producing a new generation of leaders dedicated to achieving their full potential.
Remember your ‘why’ every day. Write it down, stick it on your computer, your tablet, maybe even your alarm clock. This is the reason you are a small business warrior! If you don’t have your ‘why’ written down, start with answering the following questions: Why did you start your business? What will you achieve? Then boil it down to a sentence or two and keep it as your mantra. This ‘why’ is the foundation of your business and will give you clarity and drive as your business grows and succeeds.