What I Learned From Working at Small Businesses

Today many workers find themselves in part-time positions working as at-will employees. You may feel like you are stuck in a dead-end position, with no room for opportunity or growth. You may think that being a boss means you are no longer beholden to anyone; You just live off of exploiting your workforce. However, a change in attitude regarding how you view your position may help you see that you are surrounded by untapped resources.

Believe it or not, just because you own a business… whether it is a start-up online, or a brick and mortar, doesn’t mean that you don’t have to nurture your venture 24/7. Many owners sink a lot of their time, as well as their own personal capital, or take out loans to start and maintain their business in its early development stages. Just because someone looks like everything is going fine, doesn’t mean they are not scared about the unknown and known risks with their business. There are unique challenges and responsibilities when you are an owner that you don’t have to worry about as an employee. You need to have management skills, patience, perseverance, and great communication and negotiation skills. You need to be willing to take a gamble on your ideas, invest in yourself, and weather the storm of life’s ups and downs. There will be failures and successes. People will come into your life to help you grow, teach you a lesson, and make you a stronger business leader.

If you are working in a field that you do not have a sincere interest in, save up enough until you can quit and change careers. In the meantime, while you are at said unsatisfactory workplace, see what opportunities are right there in front of your eyes. Learn how to deal with managing human resources, figure out how accounting and expenditures work, examine the daily hum-drum activities that keep the business visibly afloat. At its core, beyond the good or service that is the motivating focus of the business, there are skills and resources that are utilized to create profit, growth, and development. A business is much like a living being that needs profit to survive, challenges to encourage growth to adapt and expand on its values, and development to keep up with the competition.

The values of trust, honesty, and communication determine your success. Be upfront but tactful with your employer and fellow co-workers. Do not make promises you cannot keep, and do not lie about your decisions and goals in regards to your given assignments. Doing so would hurt the business. If you are planning on making an exit, be forthright, and attempt to put in at least two weeks notice. If you plan to stay the course with your workplace, know this: If you are not moving up within the company within 2 to 3 years, you are making yourself obsolete in the future, or are going to be stuck at a lower level far too long. Make your time useful, by asking good questions of your employer, taking on assignments that will encourage growth, and build your leadership and organizational skills.

It is critical to your reputation in business, whether an employee or owner, to build and maintain trust with your customers. If you don’t have any customers, you won’t have a business for too long. Communicate clearly what you can deliver to your customers with products and services. Stay consistent with your presentation, be punctual, and be relevant to customer needs. Remember when you communicate on the phone and online, that there is another person on the other end. People may not remember what you said or did, but they will always remember how you made them feel. Wow people with individually tailored customer service, be attentive, focused, and shine among the competition.

Working at a small business provides the opportunity to work closer with your employer, and experience some of the ups and downs of day to day maintenance of the business. Make yourself an invaluable asset, while building your skills and know-how to effectively venture into entrepreneurship. Remember to value your connections, and appreciate both your employer and customers.

Constantly learn and keep your motivation going by reading materials on entrepreneurship, finance, psychology, and take advantages of free seminars on subjects that interest you. Challenge yourself to meet new people, broaden your horizons with new experiences, and grow your circle of associates. We are all connected in-person and via online. Developing and cultivating your interests, skills, and social value will set you apart, and place you in a class of your own.