Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Pull Up Your Bootstraps and Work Harder

Both of my grandfathers were entrepreneurs, men who started and ran one or more small businesses to support their families. They didn't create huge companies, but built lifestyle businesses that added value to themselves and the economy.

One of my grandfathers owned a butcher shop after World War II. He was a hard-working, industrious man. Every month he would hold himself accountable for the performance of his business. Once his books were done for the month, he would come home and report to my grandmother how the business did. What impresses me the most is the conversation that would follow a slow revenue month.

"We had a bad month," he would report to his wife.

"Well, what are you going to do about it?" She would question.

"I'm going to pull up my bootstraps and work a little harder," would be his reply, followed by a month of pushing himself a little harder and doing a little more to get his business ahead.

An eyewitness to many of these discussions, my mother recounts that this conversation would happen, almost word-for-word, every time a bad a month came. Interestingly, she can't remember what was usually said if the business had a great month, only a bad month.

Besides a fun personal reminder that entrepreneurship runs in both family bloodlines, here are my main take-aways:

1. Every business owner needs someone to whom they can report and be accountable

2. It's important to honestly assess how things are going, using numbers to represent performance

3. If things don't go well, take responsibility and focus on what you can do to improve future results