It’s Your Business: A love letter to small-business ownership

What makes a person who seems otherwise sane decide to start a small business, with all the long hours and financial uncertainty that go with it?

I hear that question, or some variation, almost every week or two. It seems that some ShopTalk readers have come away with the impression, after reading my columns, that mine is a life of drudgery, when, in fact, I love the path I’ve chosen.

So with Valentine’s Day almost here, I thought it fitting to pen a love note to entrepreneurship. Perhaps it will explain why I and so many others do what we do. (My apologies to Elizabeth Barrett Browning.)

How do I love thee, oh, entrepreneurship? Let me count the ways.

I love thee for the self-discovery you bring: You’ve taught me more about myself than almost anything else I could have done. I know now that I am stronger than I imagined and more resourceful than I dared believe. I possess in me a will to win, a can-do spirit, and the courage and conviction to confront my fears.

I love thee for the life lessons you teach: You’ve shown me that my existence on Earth has purpose beyond my comfort and convenience. If I try and fail, so what? Who will remember my failure or even care when my body has turned to dust? Let it be said, instead, that I dared to chase my dream.

I love thee for exposing my silly pride: It has never been easy for me to admit that I sometimes need help. But you’ve made me better and more compassionate by making me depend on others for my success. I understand now, better than ever, that nothing truly good is ever accomplished alone.

I love thee for the exhilaration I feel when something goes right: Like the time I landed a deal I so desperately needed after two long years of struggle. Or the time I gambled big with my few dollars I had left and it all worked out as planned – in fact, better than planned. You offer a satisfaction that our hunter-gatherer ancestors surely must have felt when they had finished a successful hunt, knowing that their very survival was dependent on the kill.

Finally, I love thee for the freedom you give: I am especially fond of those perfect spring days we share together, the times when you allow me to knock off early on a sun-soaked Friday to enjoy a scoop of sweet, cold ice cream or lunch alone at my favorite Mexican restaurant. Sometimes we simply sit in the park, just you and me, watching the squirrels at play. We reflect on the roads we’ve traveled and the progress we’ve made, and we make plans together for the journey that lies ahead.