We spend much of our time early on as entrepreneurs trying to feed our small businesses to the point that they have enough strength to stand on their own. In many ways, they are like little children we have brought into the world.
We teach them, support them, nourish them, protect them, and we dream about their future. Sadly though, somewhere along the way we tend to stop thinking about them as our babies and start to think about them only as our business. We start to focus in more and more on the bottom line, and if we still have dreams about our small businesses they seem to be only nightmares.
Why Did You Start Your Small Business?
Don’t get me wrong. I’ve seen far too many examples of entrepreneurs so emotionally wrapped up in their businesses that they make very poor business decisions that ruin them financially. Doesn’t there have to be more than just a profitable bottom line though?
What were those dreams that you dreamed about your small business? When you decided to plant that seed in the ground what was it that you envisioned it would grow into?
Is your small business transforming to that vision? What words would your family, employees, and customers use to describe your business?
Framing Your First Dollar
It used to be common to walk into just about any small business and see a framed dollar bill or check on the wall. It was their first sale. A confirmation that they weren’t completely crazy for launching their small business.
I think that this is where those dreams start to fade away for so many entrepreneurs. Their business is no longer a vision in their heads, but a reality. It’s no longer a question of if we can sell our product or service, but how do we get the next sale.
After that first ka-ching of the cash register, our business is measured by how many times it can make the register sing rather than the vision we had before that first sale.
When Does Your Small Business Legacy Begin?
Obviously, the cash registers need to keep humming for your business to survive. It can’t be our only focus as entrepreneurs though unless the only word we want people to use when thinking about our business is profitable.
One of the hardest struggles that larger companies face is changing the culture of their organization. In many ways, a business learns it’s personality and habits early on just like our children do. If we do not focus on our legacy early on, it will become incredibly difficult (if not impossible) to change it as the company matures.
Just look at the headlines over the past few years. Do you think Enron’s founder envisioned its legacy? Will Goldman Sachs’s bail out be their legacy? Will people ever forget this oil spill in the gulf? How did these small business grow into these nightmares?
What’s Your Small Business Legacy?
Your small business will have a legacy. It may be one that is easily forgotten. Or, it could be one that we will never be able to forget. Early on, you still have the choice.
As a Christian entrepreneur, the legacy of my businesses are just as important as any profit and loss statement. I know that one day I will answer for how I’ve operated them.
When all is said and done, I hope that my businesses are very profitable. What a shame though if that is all people remember about them.