There are more than 32.5 million small businesses in the U.S., with at least hundreds of thousands more opening each year. This isn’t just about me. This is about all of us who take a chance on following our dream of opening a small business.
If I can encourage even one person who is thinking about following his or her dream, it will be worth the transparency and the vulnerability that writing this story will take.
• “Has this been done before?”
• “Can you show me an example of this business model and how it’s been successful?”
• “How do you know this will work?”
Questions I didn’t have answers to, that I couldn’t answer with certainty. But in my heart, I knew it was what I was being called to do. I had to overcome obstacles and lots of them.
But I’m a realist
I don’t necessarily see the glass as half full or half empty. I see that there is water in the glass. Being a realist means I see things as they are.
I’m very objective, and I like to have a plan. Starting something that’s never been done means that I’ve learned a lot of things trial by error. I’ve had to learn to embrace flexibility. I’ve had to rely on faith — God is in control, and I’m along for the ride.
Being OK with asking for help
I knew very little about the business world when I started my business plan in 2015. I am a health care professional. I am a blue personality pretty much through-and-through (maybe a very tiny bit of red mixed in).
I have had to learn to admit when I didn’t have the answer and ask for help. I am grateful for all of the business and marketing professionals, the many mentors who have offered me guidance along this journey.
If you build it, they will come
“But God, I thought you said we could start small?” I really thought I could rent a small space and partner with one or two other professionals to test the waters. It is difficult to discern what is about me and what is about a bigger plan, though.
When our focus is on serving others well, I believe we will be led in the way we should go. We all have great abilities within us. It is a matter of being open to guidance from something greater than ourselves. In my story, the plan ended up being 11,000 square feet of new construction and a team of 35 providers and support staff. Certainly more than I originally thought was possible or that I felt I was capable of.
What is the measure I use for success?
Yes, cash flow is absolutely important and necessary. According to SmallBizTrends, at one point, 40% of businesses start to become profitable, 30% start losing money and 30% break even.
I’m not in this for the money. I want to know that what I’m doing is making a difference in people’s lives.
I want to know that our team is confident in our vision and that each team member feels valued in the role they play. I want to know that our clients are well taken care of, and each one feels heard and respected as a human being.
“So will you all hold hands and sing Kumbaya at the end of the day?” There were demeaning comments and naysayers along the way. We have not just survived but thrived through the past four-plus years. I believe our future looks bright.