“Nobody asked you. Nobody told you. Nobody stopped you. You just did it.” At a recent event, I was engaged in a conversation about small business ownership with a good friend of mine, Nancy from Moody’s Analytics. We were discussing the trials and tribulations of small business ownership when she made the above statement. So short, so simple, and so powerful all at once.
That was two days ago, and a colleague of mine was already asking me when my next blog post was coming. I re-read the quote and was again inspired. The power behind the statement shows the initiative and decisiveness that small business owners display daily. There is nobody there to direct your work, set your strategy, tell you when to come in, tell you you’ve messed up. It’s just you.
Most of us are driven by a dream or a vision of how things could be. Where most people begrudgingly lament the fact that is it Monday and they have to go to work; the small business owner never really left. Every part of the day is filled with thoughts of how an idea, a person, or object can help the business. The constant search for improvement drives the small business owner, mainly because there is no safety net. A failure is catastrophic for everyone associated with the business.
Nobody asks the small business owner to do the things they do. There is no manager telling them what needs to be done. They just do it. Sometimes it works, but not always. That is why my favorite part of the quote is nobody stopped you. This sentence sums up leadership quite nicely. Bold, decisive leaders wear the burden of failure as well as the glow of achievement.
While I was in the Army, I admired the leadership lessons of General George S. Patton. Especially his thoughts on courage. He preached that decisiveness and action in the face of uncertain and perilous situations will make you an outstanding leader. Where others are paralyzed by fear or uncertainty, making a decision to give your team a direction to focus will provide them much needed leadership in that moment. He gave his team members a task and a purpose because he knew that if they understood why they were being asked to do things, they would willingly accept the task.
Therefore, small business owners don’t look for direction from a superior. They take action when action is necessary for the sake of their business and everyone associated with it. Nobody cheers daily. Nobody thanks them for their effort. Nobody stands in their way. They just do it. To these small business owners, I will pass along a last Patton quote: “Accept the challenges so you can feel the exhilaration of victory.”
In celebration of National Small Business Week.