Small Business Owner: She’s Busy Working

Originally published in the Grand Rapids Business Journal, May 1, 2006

I tell people that I’m an “accidental entrepreneur.” I say a lot of things just to try to be witty. I don’t know if this one qualifies, but it does happen to be true. Most other folks I’ve met who have started their own businesses have done so with some sort of formal plan or at least a long term desire to “be their own boss,” which, by the way, is a huge fallacy perpetuated by ponzi-schemers: You’re never really your own boss — if you have clients, you have bosses.

But, yeah, I’m a small business owner because it seemed like a sensible thing to do at the time, and I’m still one because it seems like the sensible thing to do at the time. So I can often feel something of a pretender, a poser, when grouped with real entrepreneurs. It’s like I’m there in spirit, but I haven’t formalized it by taking vows. And yet, even if I’ll never be an orthodox member, I can comfortably associate myself with other small business owners in at least one respect: I like to work.

It’s not as noble as it sounds, of course. Lots of people in all sorts of careers like to work. It’s just that a small business can fail more easily if you don’t work, so liking to work dovetails nicely with continuing to work.

This week’s comic is a bit of a love letter to that notion. Michigan’s economy has been down for quite a few years now. And although it shows signs of recovery in fits and starts, we all expect ongoing difficulty in transitioning from our traditional manufacturing base. Still, people like to talk about it. Sometimes too much. Especially our supposed leaders: politicians, corporate executives, pundits. In the meantime, small business owners just continue to work. Me, too.

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