President Obama got into some hot water the other day when he was accused of attacking small business owners. During a speech on July 13th in Roanoke, VA, he said:
“If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.”
The highlighted portion is what everyone is quoting to say he’s anti-small business. Immediately after this paragraph, though, he said:
“The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together. There are some things, just like fighting fires, we don’t do on our own. I mean, imagine if everybody had their own fire service. That would be a hard way to organize fighting fires.”
Politics and possibly confusing wording aside, I think this is ultimately an interesting point. No business is created in a vacuum with no help from anyone. Even the most hardened individualistic small business owner has to admit they need others when it comes to shipping product or selling on the Internet through WePay Stores.
More than that, someone undoubtedly influenced your decisions to become a small business owner. Whether it was a business figure you looked up to, a great teacher, or a parent who told you to shoot for the stars, someone along the line gave you the dream.
Takes a Village
Ultimately there is a select group of people you have to give the most credit to the success of your business – your customers! If you need anyone at all it’s the people who buy your stuff and hire your services.
Many business owners forget this, though, and start to confuse their success as all about them instead of everyone who supported them along the way. You start to see policies change to benefit the company more than customers and less product given for higher prices. Requests and complaints on social media sites are answered with snide comments about how we “don’t need you anyway.”
It’s important to remember in the worst AND best of times who butters your bread. Take your customers into account in all things and you can do no wrong.
But running a business does take more than just customers, especially online. If you’re advertising on Facebook, you need all the people who share and like your page. On Twitter everyone who retweets your posts and links is suddenly a cohort in your success. A blogger who trades posts with you is now a trusted colleague.
It would be ridiculous to assign percentages to everything (I did 90% of the work with 10% help from the guy at the post office!). Simply, it does take a village to raise a business, so make sure to acknowledge anyone and everyone who’s lifted a hand to aid in your success.