While we were crafting our mission, a lot of questions and concerns surfaced. Most of the questions had to do with clarity: who is it exactly that we want to serve? And not just who as in ‘Jane Q. Sample’, but who in terms of…terms.
Now I’ve got some ‘splaining to do.
The obvious answer to the question was passionate small business owners. But what is a small business? What does it really mean to be a small business? Do the small businesses we want to serve call themselves small businesses? Some may (as we do) for lack of a better term.
Where’s My Thesaurus?
Terms, labels, buzzwords, catch phrases…they’e all around us. They are catalysts at times, impediments at others.
Until recently, the term ‘small business’ hasn’t bothered me. For the most part, it describes our ideal client pretty accurately. The issue I have with it isn’t so much that it’s inaccurate, but that it is now used for a host of larger business dealings.
The numbers mentioned in that article are rather eye-opening. I had no idea how big small business really was. I knew it was big, but not that big. With organizations of 1,500 using the term small, it seems counter intuitive – wrong, even – to call sole-proprietors, partnerships, and family businesses ‘small.’
In reality, the small businesses that we exist for are so much more than that; they are people’s passions, ambitions, dreams, ideas, heart, soul, blood, sweat, and tears. They are more than numbers and statistics.
They are real.
Nurtured by their owners like a child, the small businesses we serve are created out of a desire to make a better world.
“What is REAL?” asked the Velveteen Rabbit one day… “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?””Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When [someone] loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”
“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.
“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”
“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”
“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t often happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept.
“Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand… once you are Real you can’t become unreal again. It lasts for always.”
Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit or How Toys Become Real
Go get a tissue…I’ll wait.
Call me a hopeless romantic, but that little excerpt just about sums up everything that a small business is.
Why Small is Big
We’ve been working with a very large, international corporation the past couple of weeks (hence the silence) and have realized in a million little ways just how BIG our small business is to us.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s been fun pretending to be corporate. You know, if corporate means munching on cereal in your PJs right before a live call. We have it so good – and we are extremely thankful.
In all seriousness, this contract was a much needed wake-up call for us.
We now appreciate the freedom our business provides even more than before. We are grateful that our studio hours, while regular, can change if they need to. We are honored that other businesses put themselves in our eager hands, and are proud to say that we helped form some of the most passionate businesses around.
What does that all boil down to?
You: our clients and friends.
Working with the big guys has given us a new set of super-fun colleagues, but it just isn’t the same. You can’t hug a corporation. You can hug your neighborhood crafter, baker, or candlestick maker!
Keep it Real,
P.S. If you have not read The Velveteen Rabbit, please do. It is a quick read and well worth your time! Be sure to get a copy with William Nicholson’s illustrations. They are, in my opinion, essential companions to Margery Williams’ classic story.