Writing this post and publishing it today on Veteran’s Day honoring our veteran’s could not be more timely!
John F. Kennedy stated it the best: “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” How does this relate to you as a small business owner?
Starting a business is nothing new to me, because even before I helped thousands of entrepreneurs start a business by running a business incorporation service, I had firsthand experience with entrepreneurship in my family. I grew up working in my family’s Swenson’s Ice Cream franchise in Westlake Village, California. All through childhood and into high school, I remember spending time with my grandfather at the ice cream shop, and a lot of my high school classmates used to work at my family’s restaurant during the summer and after school.
I learned a great deal from just the everyday experience of being around the family business. I learned about customer service, staying organized, running a clean restaurant, and maintaining impeccable business ethics. My grandfather led by example and demonstrated the right way to treat customers and the right way to run a business in addition to remind me on a daily basis that in order to achieve true success, I needed to go to school and continue to excel in my education.
When my husband Phil and I started our first online incorporation company back in 1997, my family business roots were hugely helpful to us in getting our business off the ground.
Our family had gone full circle – instead of me helping my grandfather with his ice cream shop, he was helping us by working as our document server who took documents to the state office and filed them. He was hugely helpful in getting our business to grow. It was so important for us to have someone reliable doing that job – and he was excited to help.
When we started our first company, it was hard to apply for (and afford) our own Merchant Services accounts to process credit card payments. We had basically put up a one-page website to help people incorporate a business online – and all of a sudden, the orders started flooding in! We had no easy way to take credit card numbers or payments – this was in the years before PayPal and easy online shopping baskets – and so we were literally calling our clients on the phone to get their credit card information, and then we had to run the charges through my mother-in-law’s credit card company. These family connections were hugely helpful in getting us past those initial obstacles until we became more profitable and could start doing our own in-house credit card processing.
Even now, when I have a successful online business and full-time employees and a more advanced website than we could have dreamed of in 1997, I still think back on those early days and I feel immense gratitude for my family’s entrepreneurial roots.
Of course, the journey through entrepreneurship is not without its disappointments. You will inevitably encounter a few bad customers, people who don’t pay their bills, competitors who undercut you, and business partners who don’t treat you fairly. You might lose some friends and lose some cherished client relationships along the way for reasons that are not your fault and are beyond your control. But no matter what happens, it’s best to stay positive, stay polite, maintain a generosity of spirit and keep moving forward and forgive.
Try to remain “above the fray” and don’t let negative people drag you down to their level. Remember why you decided to start a business in the first place – whether you wanted to introduce an innovative new product or a faster, more efficient service or create a one-of-a-kind customer experience or community, stay focused on the positive and proactive elements of your business.
Remember the vision that first made you take the leap into entrepreneurship. This is what we mean by “roots” – even if your company grows to hundreds or thousands of employees and tens of millions of dollars in revenue, don’t lose sight of what your hopes and dreams were, back when you were working out of your basement and selling from a one-page website.
I try to honor the memory of my grandparents’ entrepreneurial journey every day in my work with CorpNet. They taught me from an early age how to do business the right way – not just to make the most money possible, but to make the biggest possible difference for customers and the community. I hope that today on Veteran’s Day and every day we all can remember our roots, no matter how humble, and remember that every business success story is about the journey and not just the destination AND REMEMBER NOT TO JUST UTTER WORDS OF APPRECIATION BUT TO REALLY SHOW THEM BY YOUR ACTIONS AND TO LIVE BY THEM!
Happy Veteran’s Day from CorpNet!