business owner - design missoula

Auntie, what does it take to own a business?

While this question seems like it would have such a simple answer it made me think long and hard about what it takes to be a business owner and honestly left me utterly speechless. I have been asked this many times, by a variety of people, but when it comes from your ten year old niece it seems like there are so many ways to answer and none of them quite good enough.

So, the answer to my sparkling blue-eyed, always ready for a challenge, ten year old niece.

Find something you love, a whole heck of a lot.

Five years into Design Missoula and multiple overnighters, triumphs, and failures, if you don’t have passion you probably will be happier working for a corporation knowing your set income, and getting off after 8 hours (not in all cases but you could!) to enjoy other extra-curricular activities. If you have passion for something though, and want to start your own business, through thick and thin, I am a firm believer that you can make it happen. It might not always be Plan A, B, or C but you will figure it out if your heart is in it. So make sure you find something you are over-the-moon passionate about, it will take you much farther that way.

Always try your hardest to be kind.

You may not be able to help everyone, but do what you can when you can. Truly care for the people you get the chance to interact and work with. It will amaze you how their passions will spark fires to your passions as well. They will opens doors to other connections and friendships that are incredibly valuable both personally and as a business owner. In the web world “content is king” and in business, in this gals opinion anyway, “kindness is king”, or queen, depending who you are. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get fired up about things, as you are passionate of course, and need that energy to make things happen. But, always do your best to make sure you are kind.

Work hard and work smart.

As a business owner you will need to put in many hours to make things happen. But as you grow and learn, you will learn to work “smarter.” You will learn to analyze clients and know sooner than later, that they might be a better fit with another business you know. That the time it might take you another business can help them accomplish in a more timely and affordable fashion, because their styles and personalities match better. Or you realize that you need to make adjustments to what is on your plate to make room for time to learn new things in order to grow your business. It is a continual learning experience but you start to see these things differently and are constantly evolving and you learn to work “smarter”.

Always be learning and most of all improving. Don’t ever think that if you fail you have lost out. Other opportunities will open up. Keep pushing.

Collaborate with people who are smarter than you.

Always be searching and open to working with others that are experts at what they do. Don’t be afraid of this. Instead embrace it. You will grow as an individual and as a business owner. Know your limits. Are you an accountant and designer for example? Probably not. If you are a designer make sure to find yourself an accountant.

Find mentors.

You don’t know what you don’t know, so grab up some mentors in areas you want to grow. Ask lots of questions, watch what they do, and soak in their advice. It will surprise you what you can learn.

There is so much that goes into being a business owner and lots more than covered here for sure, but it is exciting and wonderful to get the chance to talk to those who are opening their own businesses, and lovely little growing humans, like Emma, who are looking at what they want to do when they grow up.

So, as I sat there in the car discussing business with her, in between the fits of giggles about the missing backpack with clothes that were left in daddy’s car, what it really came down to was quite simple. . . Take your fiery, adventurous, loving, kind soul and

“Dream big, sparkle more, and shine on.”

Find what you want to do in this world and give it all you’ve got.

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