For almost a decade I owned a business. Then I learned that what I really owned was my job.
I had the privledge of learning small business management under the guiding hand of Dr. Thoma Jones, PhD. through my local Small Business Development Center. During one of the classes he talked about the importance of understanding what you really own because each has a different model and a different set of challenges.
You can own your hobby. Owning your hobby means you do what you love but the money doesn’t matter. This is a viable model for a second income, a retirement business or if you are independently wealthy. It has an unstable business model but since the income is less important than the activity you are pursuing, the instability doesn’t matter very much. The challenge is to just keep it going enough to be happy with the hobby.
You can own your job. When you own your job, you do what you love, it is the main source of your income but the long term view is more about independence and keeping things small. I own my job. This too is an unstable business model but, since the income matters, the challenge is to keep it as stable as possible and that takes effort, attention and focus.
You can own a business. Owning a business is really a commitment to growing in size, adding employees, being a manager and leaving a business legacy. This is a stable business model and the challenge is successfully building it to the size you want it to be and how it will survive beyond your leadership.
You can be an entrepreneur. The true entrepreneur enjoys the start-up process. They start a business so they can sell it and start another. The goal at start-up is to build a company that will sell. The challenge is getting all the processes developed and documented so it can be handed off in a selling process to someone who wants to own a business.
It takes effort to keep it moving forward. It’s like being a plate spinner. You have to put enough effort into marketing to get it going and then move over to work with a client, then look at the finances, then plan for growth and get back to marketing before the lack of momentum causes any one of the pieces to break.
I’ve been doing this juggling act for more than 20 years. There have been times when some of those critical ‘plates’ got pretty wobbely and almost fell. New technologies are making it easier to keep them all going because there are more options for getting help other than employees. Barter, virtual assistants, contract help can all make the business model a little more stable. It’s been an adventure – one I wouldn’t trade for anything.
How about you – what do you own – your hobby, your job, a business or is your real passion entrepreneurship?