When you’re an entrepreneur, you become part of a world that seemingly places great emphasis on getting big. Talk to any entrepreneur and they’ll share with you their grand plans for their businesses. They’ll tell you about how they came up with their concept, how little sleep they’re getting, how “disruptive” their product/service is, what VC they just met with, and other similar stories of their alleged successes.
They’ll tell you about their goals to expand beyond their current offerings, plans to take their company international, and ultimately, take over the world. And at some point in the conversation, you’re more than likely going to hear the phrase, “I’m building an empire.”
From revenue generated to material possessions acquired – the bigger, the better in entrepreneur-land! Digital product launches are no longer merely six figures, now they’re seven! Why have 5 employees when you can have 500? Why maintain a small operation when you can build your very own empire?
With all this hype around building massive companies, it becomes important to take a step back and realize that you don’t have to build an empire to be successful in business.
Our perceptions are a bit distorted. We’ve become accustomed to seeing everyday folks become internet and social media celebrities and go on to ink lucrative brand deals. We also live in a world where a startup can go from zero to a billion dollars in a few years. Seeing this type of fame and fortune happen so frequently and so “easily” can distort our perspectives on what it takes to build a profitable and sustainable business in the first place. The amount of effort, energy, and patience that an empire requires becomes overlooked and underestimated. Meanwhile, those who aren’t capable of (or aren’t interested in) achieving empire-status are left feeling unworthy and wondering if they’re doing “it” incorrectly.
Small is the new big. Big was great, until small happened. While the terms “big” and “small” are relative, small businesses nowadays can have a big impact. Aiming small (but thinking big) means you can build a business that suits your lifestyle; one that provides for you and your family; one that allows for greater interaction with customers; and one that creates a ripple effect in your community. Small also means being involved with the decisions that matter in the business and having the flexibility to carry out those decisions. Small can mean slow and steady progress, but in no way does small preclude growth.
Empires rise and fall, but sustainable businesses last. The thing about empires is that as often as they rise, they fall. While businesses of any size are susceptible to failure, if you set out with the intention of building a sustainable business, then you give your company the best chance at longevity. The meaning of the term “sustainable business” has evolved over the years and now reflects the efforts of businesses to navigate constant environmental, social, economic, and technological changes.
In your efforts to build a business with sustainability in mind, your decisions become ones based on long-term planning and legacy. You recognize the significance of investing in the growth and development of your team members. You slowly shift from identifying as the business owner to identifying as the business leader, where you focus on motivating and engaging the stakeholders in your company. And most importantly, you become aware of the impact of your business decisions and relationships on your long-term success.
As we embark on our own entrepreneurial journeys, it’s important to identify the type of businesses we are trying to build. If it’s empire or bust for you, then that’s fine. But sometimes it’s good to take a step back and realize that bigger isn’t always better. Sometimes, a shift in perspective and focus can produce a successful and sustainable business, even if it’s not an empire.
This article was written by Nicole Abboud from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.