Feb 02, 2021 | Posted by etc
The unexamined business is not worth doing.
Hey, wait a minute. That sounds a lot like Socrates’ famous line, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Yes. It is very close, isn’t it? You are probably thinking, “Who does this lady think she is to paraphrase Socrates?” To which I respond, in all honesty, an experienced nobody. I’m a small-town entrepreneur, and my small business has risen and fallen over and over in the last 32 years. (We are now running version 37.56, soon to be beta version 38!) If your business happens to be on an earlier timeline, you may want to listen up. I might share some things that could spare you a few fallouts. (That’s my goal anyway.)
Small Business is evolutionary by nature. It will make you and break you and remake you again, countless times, both as a person and as an entity. In itself, it is a process of creation and recreation. Small business brings out the very best in people, along with a tenacity you never knew you had. I love small business for this capacity alone.
But the small business ride is too brutal to sustain without purpose. (Think the brutality of 2020). To paraphrase another famous philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche, “He who has a why behind their business, can bear almost any how.”
It is just as important for an entrepreneur to think about what goes into a worthwhile business as it is to think about what makes a life worth living. We spend so much time on the mechanics of business that we forget why we are running it. It’s like an artist who spends so much time getting the right gear, the right canvas, the right mediums, and the right location that she has no time left to make Art. She runs out of time to do what she came to do, and loses sight altogether of who he is doing it for.
When the means become the ends, we end up on the hamster wheel of life.
For example, a marketing plan is the essential part of your business plan. (Without it, you do not need an accountant!) But it is so easy for small businesses to get lost in the weeds––all the scaffolding, the tools, the platforms, and the content––that entrepreneurs forget why they are doing it in the first place. They then create a perception and forget about creating value. They follow trends and mechanics while remaining indifferent to the humans they serve, missing any possibility for real connection. (Case in point, who loves pop-ups? A show of hands, please?)
So, what is a worthwhile business? After 32 years, we have many thoughts about it. But it would be pure hubris for us to fill your head with our ideas. Instead, we would recommend that it is worth taking the time to examine the questions and answers for yourself. It’s also worth committing these answers to paper and scheduling a periodic review.
I will venture to say that any small business worth doing delivers something that looks a whole lot like LOVE, and results in joy. When we lose ourselves inside a bigger purpose than ourselves, this joy happens for both the giver and the receiver. This joy can even become a form of resistance–even in the face of pandemics.
How is your business or organization delivering the love? How are you making and delivering Art? February is the month of love. Love requires Art and artistry. Take some time and think about the worthwhile business. It is well worth your time.
It’s quite simple. All you need is love.
All through the month of February, we will be discussing what makes small business worthwhile. What does a good business do? What are they like? What characteristics do they share? We would be so grateful if you would share your thoughts with us. Join us on our Facebook page, here. Every person who participates will be entered into a drawing for a box of treats for your office on the last day of the month. (All you need is love but a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt!)