As I’m writing this, I’m sitting on a train in Norway- headed outside of the city center of Oslo an hour to who knows where. Why? Because I got on (the wrong) high speed train with zero stops.
It’s sort of my life in a nutshell. I’m on the last leg of a 2 week creative mindset trip that I organized for myself so that I could decide what’s next for my businesses- Cleveland Flea and my coaching practice.
And using my current situation (wrong high speed train to who knows where) as a metaphor, I’ll share with you the differences between Entrepreneurship and Small Biz Ownership.
You might gather in this story that I’m representing the Entrepreneur, and you’d be right. But I’ve also been (and know and support many) a small biz owner.
Entrepreneurs are typically Mission + Vision-driven, hoping to change the world, lead their industry or solve a major issue in the world. Entrepreneurs usually sell their mindset or their thinking. They’re usually solving problems or innovating.
Small Business Owners are usually looking to get really good a delivering great value to customers with deep experience in the making or designing of one product. Their focus is usually on finding the formula and then maximizing profit—or optimizing operations so that their expenses are as low as they can be while they still deliver on value. Usually they’re product-driven.
Both of these folks have to think creatively to solve their problems, but the bigger difference is that Entrepreneurs create a lot of problems willingly on their way to solve the much bigger mission-based problem and Small Business Owners rarely do that.
BACK TO THE TRAIN.
Most entrepreneurs understand fully that at times they’ll get on the wrong train- one without a stop for an entire hour. This train is high speed, remember? In the world of entrepreneurs that means that I made a decision (financially / operationally) that has a big effect on my business and NOT in the way I had planned.
My 1 day layover in Oslo is now cut short by 3 hours (1.5 hours out here and 1.5 hours back to Oslo). I had a full list of places I wanted to see and visit that will be closed by the time I’m back. So, you see, my wrong decision has lead me to a place where most of my planning is now out the window. It’s a fairly familiar place I find myself in.
When I rolled out membership for our office co-work and it basically fell flat on its face.
When I hired an employee and then let them go only a few months after.
When I put people in positions I (and they) thought they were perfectly suited for, and it turns out they weren’t.
When I launched a product I thought was AMAZING only to find out that I’d picked the wrong customer for it.
Each of these situations presented me with a chance for immense growth, however.
And that’s my first point about how Entrepreneurship is different than Small Biz Ownership- Entrepreneurs KNOW that they will make a BIG ‘mistake’ and it MUST be turned into growth, learning or wild insight.
I have to tell you that at first I felt really upset and worried that I’d gotten on the wrong train. And not just a city-center train. A commuter train to the suburbs.
But my first lesson was honestly a sweet one.
People began to come to my aid and help me. I didn’t feel alone. I had a few thoughtful people empathizing with me (including the train conductor) and I sorta felt some relief. I was not alone in this. That felt really good. I think it’s easy to think that when you make a mistake you’ll be left out in the cold, but I find that it’s rarely true. Sure, in some cases it has been for me, but for more often it’s been less drastic consequences than I thought it would be.
My second lesson is that I had to turn this into my new intended plan. I can’t get off this train. So, I decided to get my work out of the way so that when I’m back in Oslo I’ll be able to go for a nice dinner and try some craft beer feeling accomplished.
Staying in the disappointment, fear and regret of making a mistake does not help forward momentum (and also it’s just not that fun) and that’s another difference between Entrepreneurship and Small Biz Ownership. Entrepreneurs must get used to, and embrace, mistakes. We must become emotionally resilient and not in a way that feels terrible but in a way that acknowledges our unique situation as Founders, Visionaries, Disrupters. We must learn to accept mistakes and not feel such emotional angst around them.
How do you do that?
You stop being resistant to your situation. You don’t necessarily accept things you could change, but you accept the stuff you can’t. You move from regret and anger and annoyance into acceptance and then
Small Business Owners are usually less lofty than their Entrepreneurial cousins, looking for content on how to save money, risk the least and optimize / DIY their way to their financial goals (which are usually more modest than the Visionaries).
How much money you want to make will sometimes determine if you want to be an Entrepreneur of a Small Biz Owner. You can make as much or as little as you’d like, but money mindset is vastly different between SBO’s and Entrepreneurs.
SBO’s are usually just trying to make enough.
Entrepreneurs are always in a position to have to make more to support the entrepreneurial journey, which requires more money to allot for mistakes and running quickly to solve problems.
SBO’s rarely want that headache, so they’re willing to make less so they can think less and bake, sew, paint, create more.
Obviously within each type of Business there will be more nuances that make each different from their own group. But generally, the road of Entrepreneurship is for the brave of heart (with a stomach to withstand the lengthy struggle and wrong train tickets) and Small Biz Ownership is for people who like to focus on one thing and get really good at it- deciding the journey ahead of time and following the plan.
Both take hustle and heart. Both take courage and creativity. Both take knowing yourself and why you’re in business in the first place.