Every so often I decide to update my business plan to make sure I’m heading in the right direction. I
usually have music on in the background or a comedy tape.
Yesterday, as I was working on the update, one of Steve Martin’s standup comedy routines from back in the ‘70’s came on from “Let’s Get Small” (along with some terrific banjo music). To quote in part…
“I like to get small…very dangerous for kids though, because they get really small. I know I shouldn't get small when I'm drivin', but, uh, I was drivin' around the other day, you know [whistles tunefully] and a cop pulls me over. And he goes, 'Hey, are you small?' I said, 'No, I'm tall, I'm tall.' He said, 'Well, I'm gonna have to measure you.' They've got a little test they give you; it's a balloon, and if you can get inside of it, they know... you're small. And they can't put you in a regular cell either, because you walk right out.”
And right then and there, I realized that the problem with my business plan was that I wanted to do the unthinkable – I wanted to “Get Small”! And I wanted to stay small.
Well, that goes against everything they ever teach you in business school. It challenges the basic core of the bulk of today’s marketing plans! It is outrageous, blasphemous, un-heard of! To purposefully stay small? To frame your entire business plan upon a goal that would make you “small” and keep you “small” – that’s heretical!
And yet there it was, plain as day, written out in fast and furious, mis-spelled-so-I-could-get-it-out-authentically-text – I want my business to stay small.
I want it to be manageable. I want it to be fun. I want it to be hands-on and something I do because I love it. I want every single room I stage to be a reflection of what I intended this business to reflect: a picture-perfect vision of what this room should look like to attract buyers to get this home sold.
It should be beautiful. It should be detailed. It should enhance the features of this particular home based upon attention to the architecture, geographic location & the demographic of potential buyers that this unique home brings to the market. In order to do that, I work best when I am allowed to take the time to get those details right.
I have had businesses large and small for over 25 years, many of them highly successful. That was then and this is now – those businesses were intended to grow, to have employees and to maximize profit.
This business is different. This business is now: at a time when I want to do the work I love and do it well, and still have time left over to enjoy life. And that’s the way I wrote the current business plan.
We will do a maximum number of staging jobs per month. They will all be vacant properties or model homes for builders. I will not rush or take less than the job is worth. I will provide the highest quality service, professionalism, the right amount of detail & stay true to the standards we have set for our business for quality. I will refer out all other jobs to professional stagers I have worked with and whose work I can recommend and admire.
Someone said to me when I sent her the draft for this article, that it sounded like I was looking down on other business owners who want to “go big”, as if there was some moral pejorative involved in my decision – that somehow I was making the point that “small” was “better” or of a higher quality. Or that it ignored the basic premise that to be in business we should all strive to maximize profits wherever possible. She thought it sounded snooty that I avoided the obvious issue of “how much money do I need to make”, and that by saying I would be satisfied making less, it seemed dismissive to those who need to maximize profits based upon the economic needs of their family.
That’s not the point at all. For me, “smaller” equates to less pressure, more enjoyment and a chance to do the work I love in a working environment where I am most comfortable and thrive best.
Most of all being “small” means that for the first time in my work life, I have some time – time to take better care of myself and my health, time to meet friends, or read a book without feeling guilty. I can turn off the computer and go outside, take up a new sport and begin taking the time to sit down for a healthy meal that I make, now that there is time to shop. And for once, I won’t be rushing my friends to get off the phone because “I’m busy now” (left unsaid but implied by the impatience in my voice).
Right after I post this, I’m going to write the first real letter I’ve written in years and I’m going to have to go find a real stamp to post it! I think my friend will get a kick out of getting something in the mail beside bills and advertisements.
I wish everyone who starts their own business the very best of luck in attaining whatever they are seeking – whether it is expansion, profits, innovation, a big brand name or recognition in their field. May you all have phenomenal success.
Success for me will be doing a “small” job with no pressure, leaving work and going home to find that, for once, I have plenty of time to do whatever I want. And for that I have my favorite comedian, Steve Martin, to thank!