There is a great article in Entrepreneur about the difference between being a small business owner and being an entrepreneur. I’ll save you five minutes of reading and tell you that the basic difference is one of perspective. So where the small business owner is using their brain space to think about next week, the entrepreneur is thinking about next year. The small business owner is concerned with definite – where the next dollar is coming from, what needs to get done in order to secure the business, balance sheets. The entrepreneur is thinking about trying new things, taking risks and being far more strategic in her thinking. Honestly, before I read that article I thought those two types of people were the same, that the minute you opened a business you magically got to call yourself an entrepreneur (a bit like the people who go to culinary school for a year think they can now be considered a chef.) That article made so much sense to me, and I could immediately see the way it applies to our industry.
I see nothing wrong with being either of those as the world needs all kinds of business people in it. As an example, a few weeks back I wrote about the realisation that your business might not be forever – in the case of the small business owner, it might be because they go back to more traditional work, in the case of the entrepreneur it might be because they’ve outgrown that business and it’s time to move to the next one.
These past few weeks I’ve done some mentoring sessions with people whose businesses have hit what I call business puberty. Business puberty is when you really make that decision (and mental shift) about being a business owner versus an entrepreneur.
Business puberty is when most of these sound like you:
- You find yourself with too much work for one person, but not enough for two.
- You find yourself really sick of making other people’s designs. You find yourself thinking, “If I see one more ruffle or naked cake….!!”
- Artistically, you want to do your own thing but you’re not sure how to sell that because until now, everyone loves what you do and you know if you say no, you’re worried you’ll get fewer orders or alienate your customers.
- You’ve started to really FEEL that your prices are not worth the effort you’re putting in.
- You’re sick of Facebook groups where people endlessly complain about customers and you’re feeling like you’ve outgrown some of those groups.
- You feel like you’ve grown up as a businessperson and while it’s not perfect, you’ve got a way better handle on things than you used to.
- You start to imagine what it must be like to teach and you’ve got ideas for downloadable tutorials. Secretly, you wish Craftsy would knock on your door and ask you to film for them.
- You start to care a whole lot less about the little stuff (OMG my pic only got 5 likes!) and a whole lot more about the big stuff (by the end of the year, I’d really like to hire someone to help with my social media.)
- The numbers of your business (profit, loss, costing, pricing, social media stats) are much less scarier than they used to be, and you might even find them – dare I say it? – fun.
- You probably are starting to hate your business name, logo or business colours. They don’t feel like they reflect your business anymore.
In my experience, once some (or all!) of these things start to happen, it’s an indicator that you’re undergoing a business puberty of your own – as your business is growing up, you are too. You’re getting into that entrepreneurial mindset more and more, where it’s less about cake or cookies and more about business and you’re totally okay with that.
I’m going to go out and say straight up that I think at the moment our industry as a whole is going through this as well. About 4-5 years ago the industry went crazy with people getting into it and now those people are hitting business puberty and either pushing forward into new ventures (at the moment that seems to mean a lot of membership tutorial sites) or they’ve chosen to leave. Either way it’s an interesting time for our industry and I’m looking forward to what young adulthood has to bring.
Where are you at with your business? Is it a baby, just born into the world? A toddler, slowly finding it’s feet? Or have you – like many of us – hit puberty and find yourself wanting to make some hard decisions about where your business is going? What’s going on for you right now? Please leave a comment below or email me, I’d love to hear where you’re up to.