Today’s challenges to small business owners are immense. COVID-19 aside (which, of course, is hard to put aside), there are challenges from the marketplace as well as from government. There’s competition, pressure to increase wages, problems in finding and retaining qualified employees, an endless array of employment-related government rules, tax complexity, supply chain problems, adapting to new technology, and more and more and more. So why are you in business? This may be a question that many small business owners are asking themselves now. Here are some answers to which you might relate:
Having your own business means you’re not dependent upon another company or individual to provide you with a living. You can’t be fired. You can’t be told when to work. The underpinning of the gig economy is this independence. And the pandemic has created a new crop of home-based entrepreneurs—full or part time.
Of course, with independence comes responsibility. Everything is on you. You have to work with others—employees, customers, suppliers—so you aren’t as “independent” as you may think. And being a small business owner usually means working longer hours than if you were someone else’s employee. SCORE reported that various surveys show this, with an old Gallup poll finding that 39% of owners worked over 60 hours. There are no recent statistics, but I’m sure that many owners feel they are always “on” (thinking about work, responding to emails, etc.).
Solving problems is what drives some people into business. They have solutions and want to market them. For others, it’s the daily challenges, and the adrenalin rush they bring. Like puzzle solvers, small business owners continually find ways to handle day-to-day problems. Because lots of problems are unknown until they occur, each day is different and brings new challenges. One business acquaintance used to respond to my query: “how are you?” with “never dull.”
Entrepreneur has a podcast on problem solvers.
Whether you’re in business to replace a paycheck or aim to become the next IPO, you are obviously in business to make money. Being profitable isn’t something to be ashamed of. However, if making money is the only reason you’re in business, it probably won’t sustain you. Making money is merely the way in which you can achieve goals…along with the other answers suggested in this blog.
Serving a cause
Some businesses are started as an engine for social change. For example, Bomba, the socks company, gives homeless shelters one pair of its socks for every pair it sells to consumers. Other businesses operate within the confines of climate change doctrines. They minimize their carbon footprint and adopt other “green” policies.
Serving a cause is not mutually exclusive with any of the other reasons for being in business. For example, you may allocate a percentage of profits for causes while continuing to be independent, be challenged, and make money.
Given the growing challenges today, it’s important for you to answer the question of “why are you in business?”
It may be a good idea to review your company’s mission statement (assuming you have one). It may remind you of your answer. My company’s mission statement is simply “to make entrepreneurs smarter” and it’s what drives me every day.