Doctors practice medicine, everyone else practices everything else.
I will never forget the first time my wife and I stepped out into the real world as a real business. We had burned the ships; we were all in. We were ready to conquer the world. The first battle was a wedding show.
Touting ourselves as “The Experts in Couples’ Finance,” we made signs and handouts and showed up to the wedding expo.
I want to share a moment with you that changed the way we think about what we do.
We hung up our sign behind us on the curtain that separated our booth from the booth behind us. The sign read, “Root of Prosperity, The Experts in Couples’ Finance.”
A few ladies stopped by and we overheard one say to the other,”Oh! Root of Prosperity, I have heard of them.”
My wife and I didn’t know if we should laugh or cry.
You have heard of “them?” I thought to myself. We just made all of this up a couple of months ago!
That lady’s comment to her friend was an important moment for me, my wife, and our business. I realized that I could “just make something up” and to others, it would be real and be taken seriously. WOW!
Years later I heard Steve Jobs explain what I had experienced. Here is the quote:
“Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact and that is everything around you that you call life was made up by people who were no smarter than you. The minute that you understand that you can poke life and actually, if you push in, something will pop out the other side – you can change it. You can mold it. That’s maybe the most important thing.” -Steve Jobs
To those ladies we were a real, legitimate, established financial coaching company. Little did they know, at the time, we were operating out of the living room of our tiny one bedroom apartment. Little did they know we didn’t have any products for sale yet. Little did they know that we had only coached a handful of clients.
We have come a long way since then. Workshops, products, a new book, email list, e-course, audio, video, and more.
All of which we “just made up.”
Getting to the point…
Small business is an experiment, all day, everyday. A small business is a fragile, unpredictable creature. You only have so much control over your business; the rest is a pleasant surprise. Even the owner is sometimes surprised by the outcomes of the various projects and the business as a whole. There is always a hint of unknown and chaos lurking around the front door of a small business. Let that lurking creature in, and do your best to tame it and learn to live with it. Don’t ignore that creature, pretend that it doesn’t exist or chase it off.
Small business is a learning experience, all day, everyday. Always stay in tune with what your business is trying to teach you. A small business owner needs to embrace the fact that s/he isn’t really in charge. You aren’t teaching anyone anything. You are simply a conduit of knowledge and resources. The more you learn, the larger your conduit will be. Experiment and learn.
Small business is an opportunity for growth. If you are a successful business owner, you already know that you have to grow and change early and often. Growth is a requirement. Change is a constant. Change before you have to. Let change in; let change tell you when and how.
Small business is improvisation. This one gets to the root of my message. By definition, as a small business owner, you are “making it up.” You are always in uncharted territory because you are always doing something that has NEVER been done before. Even if you are doing something that has been done before, it hasn’t. It hasn’t been done by YOU, your way, and within your unique context. Get used to improvisation. Get good at making it up, and learn to enjoy it.
Are you making it up as you go, too? What have you created that didn’t exist before you came along and dreamed it up? Let us know in the comments section below. Two lucky experimenters will win a free copy of my new book The Four Week Financial Turnaround. (Go ahead and buy the book if you wish, winners who have already bought the book will receive a $20 Amazon gift card!)
-Derek C. Olsen. Author, Speaker, Coach, and Husband over at BeatnikBudget.com @DerekCOlsen
This guest blog post is part of the virtual book tour for the book The Four Week Financial Turnaround. Special bonus products included with purchase during launch week only, Nov 26 – Dec 2nd 2012. Bonus products available all the time too!