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Knowing Your Why

Written by, Samuel K. Burlum, Investigative Reporter
and author of The Green Lane, a syndicated column
Published on 06/01/17, a www.SamBurlum.com Exclusive

Source: Why does anyone want to start their own business? Some individuals begin their own business as a path to make more money. Some people become an entrepreneur for the fame and glory that accompanies the company responsible for providing the next greatest thing. Then there are business owners who desire to make a difference in their community, and found owning a business as the mechanism for community wealth creation.  We dig deep into helping you find the why you want to own and operate your new business enterprise.

There are several reasons why someone wants to own and operate a business. Some people see it as a pathway to economic freedom, while others are tired of working for someone else and desire to be their own boss. There are individuals who begin their own business because they want more time to spend with their family. Some folks want the bragging rights and glory to say they are the captain of their own ship. Also, some people feel they need to prove something, and want to settle scores from yesteryear by way of being a successful business owner.

All the above are noble reasons for why one would want to start their own small business enterprise; however, it is not enough to keep you operating as a small business owner when things get rocky. The truth is that most small business owners will not see a profit for the first three to five years before they recoup their original investment. If you are an entrepreneur with a market disrupting innovation, it may take you double than that to reach your break-even benchmark. Most people who are in business just for the money will lose faith and give up when they experience the lack of profitability for the first few years of their start-up business.

Someone in search for bragging rights, fame and glory will also be disappointed. There is very little in the way of the spotlight for the local small business owner, who is looking to open the next corner store or new florist shop. There is no fanfare or marching bands at your door. If you are privileged, you may have a local politician show up for your grand opening and ribbon cutting. Just because you are now a business owner, you do not shoot into the stratosphere with celebrity status. If anything, you now become the enemy, the new kid on the block that is the latest competing cash register now fighting for a piece of the local economy. You may become the target of local gossip and rumor, usually started by jealous competitors that feel a sense of entitlement because they were there first.

The “why,” YOUR WHY, must be much deeper than for money or fame. Your why must have more purpose – full of passion and vision. Your why must have a soul just like you. Your why will be what carries you through some of the toughest challenges your business will face, and your why will be the motivation of why you drive yourself to the limits on the most hardest of days. Your why must be in line with serving a greater purpose; a reminder of why you should not give up on your dream of being a small business owner.

Some new business owners and entrepreneurs have built in characteristics as part of their personality that allow for how they respond to situations that define their “who they are,” which is the reinforcement behind why they become business owners and leaders. Not everyone is born with these traits, however, a person can become trained and develop these traits over time. It will take discipline, time, and absolute devotion to the success of one’s small business enterprise to refine these traits, which are also key skill sets that a successful small business owner shall need to possess.

A business owner that is looking at the long term big picture must have the character quality of unshakable perseverance.  The shear might of the tool and trait of determination is one of the key ingredients a small business owner needs in their tool box. The power to keep going, no matter how hard things may seem in the moment, having the attitude that nothing will stop you from reaching your goal is critical for overcoming the hard times. A business owner who has the tenacity to pick themselves up after being knocked down not just once or twice, but multiple times will separate the business owner and leader from the group of people that want to just own a job.

A small business owner must have an iron stomach to the cynics and critics. As a small business owner, your world changes; people you thought were friends will not be quick to support you. There was an old saying, “if you want to find out who your friends are, start a business.” The reality is most of the people around you will try to talk you out of starting a business. They might say things like, “you know nothing about being in business,” or “that’s a dumb idea, just get a regular job and be like everyone else.” They will not patron your business at first. Do not be offended, for this is a normal human reaction. Your real potential customer list will begin where the list of your friends and family you hope to support your new venture ends.

If you are looking beyond the Main Street, and are aiming your sights to launching a new product or service not yet available to the market, then you are in for a real treat. Everyone will begin to treat you like the plague. That is right, you will become the one that no one wants to take to the prom. The good news is that this is an opportunity to dedicate your alone time to your passion, your market disrupting innovation or product. Having the attitude that their opinion does not matter is important to have. Most of the people that criticize you or speak poorly about your initiative will most likely be people who never bought or will buy your product or service. You must show that nothing will stop you from obtaining your goal – to have a successful start-up business.

You must be a survivor, for in the moment of when it is the eleventh hour and your hair is on fire, you must believe you will get through this, and that your business will persevere and deliver as promised. You must be flexible to adjust your plan, but not your why. This type of self-leadership is what helps your business build a culture and reputation that people can count on, regardless of how challenging the circumstances. In this fashion, your business will become the underdog that many people will root for from the sidelines. This is where other neighbors, friends, and potential customers begin to believe in your why.

Now ask yourself again, with a clean sheet of paper, “why do you want to own a small business enterprise?” Ask yourself, “why do you want to be an entrepreneur?”  Write down every thought that comes to mind, then review your list. You will find within that list a prolific desire why, and that is your story, your product, and your brand, that your potential client audience will be purchasing. Would you buy it? What value do you put on your why? Know your why.

Samuel K. Burlum is an Investigative Reporter who author’s articles related to economic development, innovation, green technology, business strategy, and public policy concerns. Samuel K. Burlum is also a career entrepreneur, who currently is the CEO and President of Extreme Energy Solutions Inc., a green tech company located in Ogdensburg, New Jersey. Samuel K. Burlum lends his expertise as a Consultant and Managing Director of ESLC Inc., a consulting firm to start-up companies, small businesses, and mid-size enterprises, providing advisement in several areas including strategic business planning, business development, supply chain management, and systems integration

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