“Sifu, what do you do all day?” a student recently asked me. “After all, you only teach a few hours in the evenings. Do you have another job?”
I’m sure she meant well. But I actually laughed out loud in response. If I had been sipping a glass of milk, I would have surely snarfed it up.
You see, the question sounds so preposterous to a small business owner that it’s hard to know where to begin.
It’s true. I teach in the evenings. I currently teach 10 classes per week (not including my monthly 101 workshop, or my other workshops). Not long ago, I taught 16 classes per week, but thanks to my wonderful assistant instructors, I’ve dropped down to 10.
Now, I know what you’re probably thinking. Even 16 classes per week probably doesn’t seem like a lot to you. That’s only 16 hours per week! So what’s the big deal?
Well, if teaching were the only thing I did all day, then it wouldn’t be a big deal! Teaching every evening is the most rewarding part of my job. It’s why I do what I do. But teaching is only about 20% of what I do.
I wish I could just show up, teach, and then go home. That would be AWESOME. But being a small business owner is much more complicated than that. It’s complicated even if you run an Internet business, let alone a brick-and-mortar business like mine.
(For those who’ve never been to my studio, you should know that my wife and I have a shared business. Her acupuncture clinic is directly connected to the Flowing Zen studio. So it’s really 2 businesses.)
Click here to see more pictures of our beautiful studio.
A Small-Business Kind Of Morning
So what the heck do I do all day? Well, here’s a typical example. Before noon today, I….
- …spoke with the accountant about the P&L (Profit and Loss)
- …called the property manager about a roof leak in our building;
- …spoke with the bookkeeper about our payroll taxes;
- …rushed to the studio to handle a septic issue (yuck!);
- …called the property manager to talk about the septic issue;
- …drove to the bank;
- …answered 8 emails from active students (I type fast, thankfully);
- …fixed a student account problem in our computer system;
- …called technical support to get help with our online inventory system;
- …updated my website;
- …updated my wife’s website;
- …spoke with the landlord about our lease renewal;
- …went to look at a new commercial lease (just in case);
- …answered a call from a prospective student;
- …posted my daily updates for Facebook and Twitter;
- …wrote this blog post.
That’s just between 9am and 12pm. And that doesn’t include personal stuff, like walking the dogs or practicing Qigong (is that business or personal?). Of course, I’ll be busy with lord-only-knows-what this afternoon before I start teaching at 5pm. I’ll get home around 8pm, eat dinner, spend some time with my wife and the dogs, and hopefully do a little work on my blog. Maybe I’ll even get a chance to read a little. But I’ll probably answer a few emails before bed, just to get a jump on tomorrow.
Save Your Community
Why do I, and so many other small business owners work so hard? The answer might surprise you. You probably think we do it because we get to be our own boss (that has advantages and disadvantages), or because we get to share in the profits if the business is successful (or the losses if it’s not).
But that’s not what motivates us. I think I probably speak for most small business owners when I say that what motivates us through all the long days and nights is a sense of community.
My wife and I are known in the community as healers. That’s our mission — to empower people to heal their own bodies and minds. We’ve had a big impact on countless lives.
But did you also know that we have a big impact on the community? The Andersonville Study of Retail Economics found that locally owned businesses generate 70 percent more local economic impact per square foot than chain stores. Take that, McDonalds!
Small Businesses Matter
Small businesses are the backbone of the local economy. If you don’t understand how that works, please allow me explain it to you because it’s important.
Those mysterious job creators that you often hear about in politics? That’s us. Small businesses create real jobs for real people. My wife and I employ 6 people, not including us. Actually, we provide 8 total jobs for the community because, rather than take 2 jobs away from others, my wife and I created jobs for ourselves.
(By the way, if 6 employees doesn’t sound like a lot — well then you wouldn’t mind taking care of payroll next month, would you!)
The money that you spend at our business gets recirculated right back into the community. And not only through the jobs that we’ve created. We also spend a lot of our money (both personal and professional) in the community — on bookkeepers, restaurants, accountants, local farmers, etc. Because we value small businesses, we choose to spend our money on them.
That recirculation of money is hugely important. It’s what keeps local communities thriving. It’s what keeps YOUR community thriving.
Support Small Business Owners…with Hugs
So the next time you see me in class and wonder what I do all day, and why I do it — well, now you have a clearer picture. And the same goes for my wife. And for all the small business owners in your local community. In fact, the next time you see a small business owner, why don’t you just give them a hug?
Seriously. They deserve it. And they probably need it.
Most Americans don’t know the first thing about how small businesses work, or why they’re so important. And that’s okay. Most of the time.
But a hug never hurts.
Do you own a small business? If so, I’d love to hear from you in the comment section below. Don’t be shy. We’re all family here.