When I first decided to open my small business I quickly began to feel like Ralphie from A Christmas Story. All he wanted for Christmas was an “official Red Ryder carbine action 200 shot range model air rifle.”
He told everyone about it. It was all he could think about. Like Ralphie, the entrepreneur in me could only think about one thing – starting and growing my small business.
Much to Ralphie’s dismay, the only thing he heard back was, “you’ll shoot your eye out!” If you are starting up a part-time home-based business or a full-time traditional small business you have probably heard your fair share of naysayers too. Why do people tend to react this way?
Ralphie’s Mother – Genuine Concern
The noblest of all the naysayers are concerned about us. I think Ralphie’s mother was genuinely concerned that he may actually shoot his eye out. There is always a risk of failure when starting your own business and they may be concerned for you.
Don’t dismiss these people. Make sure that you listen to their concerns and have accounted for it in your business plan. Doing so will increase the odds that your business will succeed.
Ralphie could have taken a gun safety course or promised to use safety goggles and head gear when using his air rifle. If you have identified the risks and have a plan to mitigate those risks then there is nothing more you can do as concern becomes just worry.
Ralphie’s Teacher – Just a Distraction
Ralphie’s teacher may have been concerned for his safety, but she most likely saw his desire as a day dream – a wasteful distraction. Many people are too busy living their lives to ever risk following their dreams.
To these people your dream of watching your small business grow is just a reminder to them of the fear that keeps them trapped in their day-to-day lives.
They are quick to point out the has beens that have failed while content being a never was. There is little to be gained from them.
Department Store Santa - A Bad Reminder
The department store Santa has given up on his dreams. In the movie, as Ralphie is clinging to his hopes that Santa will grant his wish, the department store Santa forces him down the slide by pushing him down with his foot.
These people have tried, failed, and quit trying to accomplish their dreams. They have been knocked down one too many times and did not get back up.
There is much that could be learned from these people, but they choose to cling to their bitterness and relish in the opportunity to squash your dreams.
If you can get them to open up and talk about what went wrong there are great lessons to be learned. Chances are not good though because these people tend to run in packs – just like the department store Santa’s little helpers. Misery truly does love company!
Ralphie’s Dad – The Perserverer
You just got to love a man that will get excited about a tacky lamp and put it proudly on display in the picture window. Ralphie’s dad may have been cranky and liked to curse at everything, but he never gave up. When everything went wrong around him he found a way to make it better.
These are the people with which you want to surround yourself. They have struggled with their dreams yet they keep on dreaming and trying to accomplish them.
There is so much to learn from one who perserveres. Just like Ralphie’s dad was the one that gave him the air rifle, it is the perserverers that will be most apt to take you under their wing and show you their failures and successes so that you can learn from them.
I Did It, I Shot My Eye Out!
Why do 4 out of every 5 small businesses fail? Because it is inevitable that at some time you will fail – you will shoot your eye out. Or maybe, like Ralphie, you will just shoot a hole in your rose-colored glasses.
How you react to a failure will largely depend on with whom you have surrounded yourself. Their attitudes will help to shape yours for better or worse.
It is at times like these that you need to hear “it happens, and here’s what we can do about it” rather than “I told you so!” It is easy to throw in the towel, and many small business owners do.
Look for those people in your life who have struggled and overcome and keep on keeping on. Surround yourself with them. It is this attitude that will help your small business grow into your dreams.