When you start a business, it is easy to build a business model that is profit-driven. You want to become a million-dollar company like everyone else in your industry. You might even think that growth is the most important thing to work on and focus most of your resources on it.
Call me old-school but I feel very uncomfortable at the speed of companies expanding and collapsing. Most business articles out there would make you believe that running your own business is a money-making, sure-fire way to get rich. They might even make it sound easy to start a business. Truly, in Singapore, we have a lot more support for entrepreneurs such as startup rebates, training subsidies and also lower taxes than in most other countries.
However, having run my “business” for over 10 years, I can honestly say it is not an easy process. We are not BIG but we choose to remain to be so. This is why:
1. It is a necessity. I can honestly say, based on my qualifications, and especially when I first started, I wouldn’t be able to get a better job or higher pay anywhere else.
2. It is a passion. I love design and I love my job. If I lose my business, I will be losing something that I enjoy doing and probably will have to look for jobs that I don’t enjoy doing.
3. It is not the most important thing. Success is subjective. There are a hundred more important things we can measure success with such as having a happy family, good health, great friends and even your belief is more important than if owning a million-dollar company.
Finally, I feel that it is a very humbling process. Anytime you think that you are empowered, successful and proud, you can easily suffer a major defeat like losing a long-term customer. You always learn and learn.
The saying that “The Customer is Always Right” is not wrong. Customer relationships are very important.
Even with the largest Fortune 500 companies, they are going back to learn the ways of being small and building a personal relationship with their customers through social media and blogs. The successful ones will see this. However, for others, perhaps by being big, they forgot how to get out of their ivory towers.
We can learn loads from being small and staying small. Growth is not everything. I have been working on my graphic and web design business for over 10 years. Growth is slow but steady. We win clients and we lose some. Mostly, we keep ourselves afloat and live comfortably. The goal is simply to make a long-term income (even until retirement age) and job security, rather than to earn that coveted first $1,000,000. In addition, I’m doing something I love and enjoy rather than trading my freedom and passion for money or unsustainable growth.
Only time will tell whether this business model works but currently, I’m satisfied and happy.
As usual, everything I write comes with inspiration (and I want to credit them where credit is due) and this particular one was inspired by Jason Fried’s example: