This article, written following a very enjoyable FLBC evening at Cotswold Woollen Weavers back in September 2021, is a brief look on why you do what you do, looking at the differing reasons small business owners are in business and what motivates them to remain so. Most people in the country work for very large organisations – 1.4 million for the National Health Service – but members of the Fairford & Lechlade Business Club either work for themselves or for very small businesses. The definition of a micro business in the UK is one about which two of the following three facts are correct:
(1) It turns over less than £632,000.
(2) It has less than £314,000 on its balance sheet.
(3) It employs less than ten people.
If your business is in two of those categories, you run a micro business. Most people who run very small businesses are either those who have never worked for a big company but have almost drifted into working for small business or they once worked for big business and got fed up with it and now either don’t work at all or work for very small businesses – or perhaps you had some other reason.
Search of the internet by the Host for the evening, Richard Martin of Cotswold Woollen Weavers turned up several lists of reasons to work for yourself, ranging from 50 to 6 reasons. Those 6 were:
- creating one’s own career opportunity
- demand for what you are selling
- you want to make money
- you hate your day job
- you want to make a difference.
Richard added three more, which generated some laughter:
- you like adventure
- you’re a control freak
- you are unemployable.
The discussion continued with two Award Winners of the 2021 Business Awards (Emma Tuck of Bulldog Websites and Lizzie Skinner of Beanology) explaining why they started their businesses – mainly lifestyle and flexibility. I should add here that “lifestyle” for I think all those present correlated pretty much with flexibility rather than looking for a jet set lifestyle.
I ask rhetorically – not wishing to put cats among pigeons or stir up controversy – do women and men have different reasons for starting a small business? Is flexibility more of a motivator for women – fitting in with children/family life? Or for all is it aspects of one’s current job – commuting, not having to answer to a boss they don’t like (hopefully we all like ourselves), sharing an office with colleagues one doesn’t like. Money – lots of it – was not a motivator for most people, though nobody was in business to make a loss. I add here that the old adage of earning £1 with expenses of 90p equals happiness, earning £1 with expenses of £1.10 ultimately spells unhappiness if not despair.
Variety – in the people one meets as a small business owner or just working for yourself on a self-employed or freelance basis – was seen as a positive.
Being a control freak – several business owners look on their business as an extension of themselves and most do not see it as negative. The business owner knows the answer, can make the decision and cares about their customers and their business – an employee does not.
Other positives, which link to the lists of reasons above, are that customers may become friends, being able to make a difference to the people you deal with, i.e. your customers, and doing something you enjoy. Being able to do what they do better rather than bigger was a strong motivator for nearly all of those present.
I am ending this brief article – hopefully some of you have read this far – with a request. Fairford & Lechlade Business Club is interested in its members and would like more people to join and to contribute to the Newsletter. Having looked at why people are in business, it would be a good follow-on to know why you are a member of FLBC and also more people to say why they are in business. Perhaps a future article could be on the drawbacks of running a small business/being self-employed. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to contribute.
A fuller version of this article is available on request to email@example.com.
FLBC Steering Group Member
TA Reed (Wiltshire) Ltd