It’s the season of giving thanks. Now that you’ve carved up the turkey, how about carving out some time to be thankful for what you receive from your small business?
In the course of daily life, it’s easy to forget what we like about running a small business – especially when we have to deal with customer complaints, problem employees, and 12-hour workdays. What’s to like?
Well, quite a lot. You just have to step back and look at your small business through a somewhat different lens. Focus on all the many ways you benefit, both from your own actions and from those around you who help you achieve your goals.
The Puritans, who originated Thanksgiving in America, debated whether only unique acts of Providence should be acknowledged with special ceremonies, or whether gratitude should be expressed for receiving the ordinary, everyday necessities of life. The Puritans came down on the side of remembering the ordinary as well, and it was in that spirit that Thanksgiving evolved.
That serves as a good reminder to us to appreciate the ordinary aspects of our small business lives that we typically take for granted and to acknowledge the day-to-day efforts and support of others.
- First, of course, you’re thankful to be your own boss. If you’re like me, you never really enjoyed having someone tell you what to do. On my worst days, I try to remember old bosses. I was unfortunate – (or perhaps fortunate, as it spurred me to go out on my own) – that I never had a good boss. My bosses were more interested in following the rules or watching a clock than in excelling – and I was always eager to achieve more.
- Next, you’re probably thankful that you can act on your own good ideas. I have friends with good jobs in large companies who are frustrated because they can never get their ideas listened to, let alone acted upon. The corporate culture and inertia are such that you just go along to get along.
- How about being thankful for all those people who’ve supported you along the way and helped make your dream a reality – friends and family, good customers, referral sources, investors, advisors?
Sure, most of us remember to give thanks to those people who do exceptional favors or services for us – the customer who refers a friend, an advisor who helps us out of a jam, a supplier who extends extra time on our credit. But how good are we at giving thanks for the seemingly mundane, regular contributions of others?
Do we remember to say ‘thanks’ to our spouse who picks up the kids when we have to work late or goes without a vacation because we’re investing in a new piece of equipment instead? To our friends who haven’t seen us in months because we’re working on a new product launch, but they’re still there for us if we need them?
We’re typically focused on getting new business, so it’s easy to forget the folks who don’t take a lot of work to get their business. Let’s remember to say thank you to a regular customer or client, who comes back week after week or year after year but never makes a fuss.
- And it’s truly important to thank our employees and contractors who help us build our businesses.
Many years ago, I worked in a company where the supervisors didn’t believe in saying thank you. The chief executive, when chided for not acknowledging the contributions of his employees, responded with “I pay them; what more do they want?” Of course, the company had low morale and high employee turnover.
So be certain to take time to acknowledge those who do their work well day after day. While we may congratulate – even reward – the salesperson who lands a big account, it’s easy to ignore the assistant who never loses a message or the production worker who shows up every day, on time, and does a good job. How about taking time to say, “thank you.”
Remember, people envy small business owners. They wish they had your drive, your willingness to take risks, your ability to be in charge of your own destiny. So now’s a very good time to be thankful.
Copyright, Rhonda Abrams, 2015
This article originally ran in USA Today on November 27, 2015