I always knew I’d end up being a small business owner at some point. I peddled nail polish in my middle school bathroom. I started a non-profit when I was 26. I’ve only ever worked at small, independent companies with no more than 10 employees. And 3 years ago, with a toddler and mortgage in tow, I took the full plunge and started a business with my husband, Chris Kelly, and brother-in-spirit, Pat Kelly, called Kelly&Kelly.
And it may seem like I was conditioned to take this kind of reckless risk because my parents are crazy entrepreneurs (proof: this short film I made about them risking everything they owned and selling the first personal computer in Canada), but in fact, it was still scary as balls, and there are 2 things I learned that helped me jump off the diving board into the freaking deep end of entrepreneurship:
#1. ANYONE is allowed to own a small business.
Growing up, I always naively thought to own a business you had to get a special degree or pass a test or be a GENIUS. But at my first real job the owner made every decision based on his “gut”, and not actual facts, and somehow that business had been around for almost 20 years. It made me realize that literally ANYONE can run a business! There is no test you have to pass. You don’t need to ask permission or prove your worthiness. And you definitely do not have to be a genius! Lots of non-brilliant people run businesses. Take comfort in that, I sure do.
#2. “If it doesn’t work out, I’ll get a job.”
I once asked my dad “weren’t you scared to take this huge business risk when you had 2 kids, what if you failed?”, and he said “you know what, I never worried about it. Because I knew if it didn’t work out, I’d get a job.” And although that doesn’t sound revolutionary or even particularly uplifting, it changed everything for me, because it got rid of my “fear of failure”. If the business doesn’t work out, you aren’t sentenced to “business jail” (as long as you don’t actually do anything illegal). Life moves on to the next thing, no matter what! And even more so, it is not a failure, because you will have learned so much. And even if your business is moderately or wildly successful, you may still decide to move on to the next thing! There is no failure, only evolution, no matter what that looks like.
I know these words of wisdom aren’t the most “instagrammable” or romantic, but it is the truth! And I really believe in these 2 big truths about becoming a small business owner: You don’t have to be a genius, and there is no failure, only evolution. So if you are thinking about becoming a small business owner, or in the midst of becoming a small business owner – CONGRATS TO YOU! And if you want to hear more of my #truthbombs or personal experience, I happen to be speaking on a panel here in Vancouver about the basics of business on Tuesday April 24! There will be actual small business bookkeepers and lawyers to answer the hard questions, and I will be there as a cheerleader to say you can ABSOLUTELY 100% MAKE YOUR SHIT HAPPEN. Buy a ticket here!