small business and me

I come from a family of small business owners. One of my Grandfathers owned two roofing companies for around twenty five years; the other ran a painting and decorating business (my uncle still does). My Father ran a roofing business until he set up a soccer academy – more than once; on more than one continent.

None of them had the technology, education, knowledge or marketing savvy so many have today and likely had no idea of the pitfalls around the corner; the economical landscape of the nineties and noughties, or a business plan in sight. They just had a good brain for knowing what’s right when, a good way with people and determination by the bucket load.

When I was about fourteen, my Grandfather told me that one day he would set me up in business because I would be good at it. I never did ask him why, but I’ve always felt the need to ‘work for myself’ and ‘make a difference’. Just after this, near the end of the UK recession in the nineties, his long-standing small business went into liquidation. A large supplier hadn’t paid up and it was the end. A bitter pill to swallow after almost surviving an ever- bleak period.

I can remember how angry I felt at the ‘big’ supplier, who deprioritised the smaller businesses to pay their own suppliers and keep themselves in business. It was my first taste of the reality of business: survival of the fittest and an eye-opening lesson in it’s fragility. The risks, the winners and the losers; you can never take anything for granted, you’re never safe and you must keep moving to stay ahead of the game.

This knowledge stayed with me, stewing at the back of my mind over the years. Businesses could be ethical, caring and do the right things for each other; couldn’t they? I still think that they can; though maybe I’m a little wiser, a little stronger and a little less idealistic.

Twenty years later, I’m finally embarking on my own business journey. Thinking about it, I’ve been on itaround seven years without realising. I’ve had viable and not-so-viable ideas, searched for opportunities; brought it forward and pushed it back when my fear took over at the thought of losing my hard-earned steady corporate income. But my perception didn’t change until I seriously reflected on my values, ambitions and what I have to offer.

I have fifteen years of work experience, in multi-national businesses in a range of business and technical roles across key industries, sectors and countries. I have worked in service businesses. I have worked in product businesses. I have worked in recruitment which exposes you to pretty much every type of business, person, idea and dream out there.

In all of my jobs I have had the same outlook: to make a difference – ethically- to the people who need it most. I’ve always made the most of the less than perfect jobs, by making my strengths (writing, communication and ideas) work for the business and work for me.

Reflection taught me a lot. It taught me that I’m loyal, committed and much more innovative than I ever imagined. It also taught me that I am very good at what I do and that what I do well is universal.

Playing to my strengths and following my instinct has taken me a long way in a difficult environments; through economic crisis and mergers/acquisitions/carve-outs and outsourcing.

Through my fear of starting my own business, I’ve learnt about business without even realising. I have soaked up knowledge, looked for trends, identified my audience, planned the future and communicated with the right people along the way.

One thing most corporate businesses have in common is that they all started as a small business – someone somewhere had an idea, a dream or saw an opportunity too good to miss. Then worked really, really hard at it.

I believe small businesses are our future. I am passionate about what they can bring to the economy, to people’s lives and to each other. My sister is now dabbling in making cakes and my cousin is a career woman with exciting new ventures.

So this is my journey and I’m sharing it with you because my belief in small businesses is the reason I’m starting on my new path. I hope that as well as benefiting from the ideas and thoughts I bring; you enjoy the read!

After all, we’re all just people and we’re all on a journey. For us, it runs in the family.

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About lifeinzuri
Thirty-something Englanderin copywriter and business owner in Zurich ... Blogging about life, love, language barriers and small business on the best journey of my life :)

One Response to small business and me

  1. Pingback: don’t just leave the technical stuff to the specialists… « it's all about the journey

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