Small business owners – still crazy after all these years

Jim Blasingame

“Still crazy after all these years” is the title of a contemplative, 1975 song by the legendary singer-songwriter and multiple Halls of Fame member, Paul Simon. Listening to it on the radio the other day for the zillionth time, the song’s title/refrain made me to think about what makes small business owners different.

They’re different in the way they look at the world. How they think about challenges, imagine outcomes, appraise risk, project potential, and measure all of that against their resources and themselves is different from everyone else. And when they decide to go, like the poker player pushing all his chips to the middle of the table, small business owners are all in. Against all odds. No one else in the marketplace does that.

Still crazy after all these years.

Mountains of evidence should dissuade them from starting a business. The SBA reports over half of all small businesses fail in the first four years, and that’s a 20% increase in mortality over the past 20 years. Every new technology that lowers the barrier to entry for a small business simultaneously disrupts a traditional business model while producing a hundred new competitors. And yet thousands of new ventures are created every year.

Still crazy after all these years.

Many voices ask good questions: “No one’s ever done that before – what makes you think you can?” “How’re you going to create something from nothing?” “How can you compete with the Big Boxes?” “How did you talk the bank into a loan?” To which small business owners have one simple, but classic response: “I didn’t know I wasn’t supposed to.”

Still crazy after all these years.

Small business owners are constantly compared to other, more popularly trodden professional paths that could have been taken. “Why don’t you get a real job?” “Your brother’s job has retirement and healthcare.” “If you worked for a corporation you’d get bonuses and overtime.” “If you worked for the government you’d get paid leave, sick days and job security.” But to someone who took the entrepreneurial path less traveled, those “others” sound like receiving a sentence.

Still crazy after all these years.

In the face of all this, with no fanfare and little recognition, small business owners create over half of the U.S.’s $18 trillion economy, 55% of innovations, are 93% of exporters, and sign the front of paychecks for over 70 million Americans, while simultaneously anchoring every Main Street in America.

What’s crazy to others sounds about right to a small business owner. Thank God.

Write this on a rock … Still crazy after all these years. You’re welcome.

Jim Blasingame is host of The Small Business Advocate Show and author of the award-winning book, The Age of the Customer: Prepare for the Moment of Relevance.

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