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Advice from a small business owner: Why it’s okay being small

by Geoff Anderson on June 3, 2015
Business

After 22 years of running a successful small business I’ve accepted, and in fact embraced, the joy of being small.

I have a video production business and I have a part time editor (although he’s kept pretty busy) and I work with freelance cameramen, producers and directors. I see a lot of small businesses feeling pressured to grow, get bigger, take on more staff.

I’ve had opportunities to do that over the decades but each time I’ve looked at it and considered this question:

Will this be of benefit or will it cause more stress, more costs, less time and less profit to my business?

And you should ask yourself the same.

I guess for an entrepreneur I’m conservative. When I started my business I wanted to enjoy it. And I have.

For some people they want to be the next Steve Jobs and I wish them all the best. For me, however, I simply want to enjoy what I do and be rewarded appropriately for my creativity and expertise. It has always been about the journey. About enjoying the ride.

I’ve seen people who work relentlessly until they retire and then die. What’s the point? It’s as if they are working so that they can achieve a lifestyle but forget to have a lifestyle along the way. Now is the only time we have to enjoy ourselves.

So I keep it simple. I book in crew for the jobs as they come up. I have tried having full time staff in the past but I found myself spending days thinking about what I can do to keep them busy during the quiet times. It would have been easier for me to pay them to go the beach so I could focus on the next sale I needed to generate.

Today more than ever it is easier to run a global small business with virtual and freelance staff.

People are available throughout the world on sites like Upwork, fiverr.com, freelancer, and 99 designs. For a small price you can compete globally.

Having a small operation allows me the freedom to prioritise how I want to spend my time. I’m free to schedule the school pickups, the ski holidays, the long weekends.

Of course there is also the responsibility to step up and work the extra hours when it’s required. At the end of the day the bank balance will always reflect how well your business is working.

For many years the mantra of business experts is that growth equals success. But how do we define growth? Is it a higher turnover? More profit? A bigger office? More staff? Or is it personal growth and development? Or is the mantra misguided?

My turnover has remained fairly steady for the last fifteen years. I haven’t grown in the traditional sense. Personally I’ve grown and I have enjoyed myself. For me success is about being happy.

For me success is about being happy.

Having health, happiness and love around you and the time to enjoy it.

And there is always growth of sorts happening in my business. I need to embrace new technologies, set new goals, develop new markets. Being steady and stable is not the same as being still.

There still needs to be activity focused on current goals. I guess my point is how big, hairy and audacious do you need your goals to be? That comes down to the individual and where they are at in their lives.

If you have a young family then you will never have another time to watch your children grow and change every day. So is now the time to prioritise your business so you can be present for those moments? That’s a personal choice.

For me being a parent is a priority and by having a business that I run, rather than a business that runs me, I am able to make time to be present for my children.

Let me clarify a point however:

Being small doesn’t mean doing it alone.

On the contrary having a robust team around allows you the freedom to enjoy your business. The key is to develop a team of freelance workers who work alongside when you need and alongside others when you don’t need them.

It’s about being smarter in how you distribute your workload so that quality results are being achieved with or without you. So before you take that next leap, ask yourself why are you doing it? Is it because someone told you that’s what a business does, or is it because that’s what you really want?

For me I want to enjoy myself and this is how I do it.

What is your why? Tell us in the comments below!

Check out Get Your Life Back ebook by Kasia Gospos, founder of Leaders in Heels, on how you can streamline and automate your business and life so that you have more time for what you really love.

Geoff Anderson
Geoff Anderson loves helping his clients tell their stories through video. Since 1993 he has owned and operated Sonic Sight, a video production facility in Sydney Australia. He has worked for clients on productions throughout Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and the US. Geoff as a video producer, a camera man, an editor, a director and a scriptwriter. Geoff is the author of "Shoot Me Now - making videos to boost business". He presents on the topic of using video to boost business. Geoff has been a radio announcer and has two children, Cassie and Max.
 
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