It will probably surprise most people to know that small business actually has a week of its own, officially declared by the president of the United States. On one hand, Mothers Day doesn't get the presidential proclamation, but Small Business Week doesn't get the publicity or the spending splurge, but each has a purpose.
There has been a Small Business Week since 1963, a time when the public perception of small business was really small. The corner store, the barber shop or the gas station typified the hopes and aspirations of someone who wanted to own or start a small business. In reality, a business can be classified as small all the way up to 500 employees.
For my own celebration of the week this year, I put the focus on having purpose in business. You may remember Pastor Rick Warren's book, The Purpose Driven Life which sold over 12 million copies in the 1990s. At the time I gave that book to friends who had business aspirations because I found it instructive in a business sense. Some of the best business books (and even films) may not seem to be about business but my theory is that a successful business and a successful life are built on the same foundational principles.
What are some of the purpose driven lessons that we can all use? Your purpose not only helps define what you do, it also helps you separate the wheat from the chaff. Decide what really counts and do that as much as you can.
When I began Nelson Davis TV Productions, selling was not on my resume or in my experience. I had to make it up as I went along, asking for help, insights, guidance and support almost every day. Now, I'm a graduate from the college of practical knowledge and sales-marketing is my job everyday. But dedication and belief won't overcome a lack of skill and using available technical tools. Rick Warren refers to a biblical verse from Ecclesiastes: "If the ax is dull and its edge unsharpened, more strength is needed, but skill will bring success." Of course you have to retain and apply the lessons that you picked up while making it up.
Don't be afraid to borrow techniques from other's obvious successes. A woman I know has built a very successful retail business by finding inspiration in things that she likes. For example, I've heard her say when she sees a piece of jewelry that prompts feelings of like it or love it, "let's see if we can make something like that." You don't always have to accumulate a pile of mistakes on the way to something that works. Imitation is not just a sincere form of flattery; it has relevance as a business strategy.
The purpose of your business is your ultimate guiding principle and nothing should override it. Pastor Rick Warren says "Plans, programs and personalities don't last; only purpose lasts". My purpose is to educate, uplift and inspire existing and potential business owners using electronic media and live events. I came across a simple affirmation from a man named Raymond Charles Barker. It says "We must live purposefully from within instead of accidentally from without." I give that idea two thumbs up and a high five. No matter the problem, calling up our strongest powers of purpose will be part of the solution.
There is a recent news story that convinces me that more people are feeling the need to bring a greater sense of purpose and direction to their lives. The percentage of Americans starting businesses in 2009 and 2010 was the highest in 15 years according to the Kauffman Foundation. In 2009, 558,000 new businesses were launched every month! In the following year that number inched up to 565,000 per month. What that means is that about 340 out of every 100,000 adults started a business during each month. Whether it was purpose, necessity or just crazy dreaming, the numbers are impressive. I'm already looking forward to seeing the numbers during Small Business Week 2012.