… people like me! I know, I know, it’s supposed to be “smart enough”. But today I want to talk about being small.
I have a fascination with business groups, and business advice. It’s one of those train wreck things – I just get mad at the advice but I can’t stop peeking into them. I’ve followed a few people who are all, “it’s fine to be as small a business as you want!” and I get all excited because I want to be small and I like to talk with other people in the same boat… but soon, within a few months, posts and advice are gearing towards how to wholesale, how to scale up, how to get bigger, how to hire, how to do more. And I get frustrated and sad.
Why is being small not enough? Why does it always turn into GROW GROW GROW? Surely I can not be the only person out there who doesn’t want to farm off my pottery design ideas to a small production company?! I don’t want people to work for me, and I don’t want to work for other people.
One of the reasons I feel I was cut out to work for myself is that I would get … well, not “in trouble”… but frowned upon at yearly reviews. You know, that once a year when your boss calls you into the office and tells you how you improved (or didn’t) last year, and you have to make up stories about what your goals are for next year…? I never even got yearly reviews about the first 15 years of my work life, but that’s because I worked for small businesses and it was more of a “we’re all in this boat together” attitude than “here’s the ladder, climb up it.” And when I did start getting them, the one thing that always came up is that I didn’t seem to really want to grow within the company. I didn’t seem to want to climb the corporate ladder.
I never wanted to climb the ladder. I just wanted to show up and do my job to the best of my ability. I do well when I’m doing well, if that makes sense. If I like where I am, enjoy what I’m doing, and am doing it well… and don’t want to climb the ladder… I’ve always thought, “well, why should I?”. Especially if it’s something like working in a three-person department, and seeing the stress my supervisor is under, and not wanting that stress for myself. And honestly. In a three-person department, where I’m the second person, what am I going to do to get my boss’s job? Stoop to murder? I mean, really!
And yet, I am always told to grow, to reach higher than I want to be. People into the culture of growing bigger, of always reaching for the brass ring, never understand being happy where you are.
Now, I’m not saying I don’t have plans to grow in my art. I want to get better at throwing, I want to learn everything about ceramics I don’t already know, I want to reach new heights of color combinations in dyeing yarn, I want to find that one soap fragrance that not everyone has but everyone who smells it loves it. But I don’t want to wholesale to large companies who send out glossy catalogs. I don’t want to hire people to do work I design (I mean, the first person I’d have to hire would be someone for accounting, because there is NO WAY I’m doing payroll and figuring health care and taxes. UGH!). I don’t want to do trade shows, and find clients.
I want to make my art, and I want to interact with the people who buy what I make, and I want to find out more about them so I can make more things that they will love. I would rather have a hundred really good repeat customers who love what I do and come back to me for themselves and for gifts for their loved ones, than a thousand one-time customers who buy something out of a catalog.
Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of things I feel should be done like an upright business! I want policies in place that people can trust, like shipping times and return policies and online credit card safety and what I do and don’t do with your contact information. I want to be trustworthy. I want to be honest. I want to be open and clear with people. But I can be small, a one-woman show, and still do those things.
Trust me, this will not be the only post I do on being small – I have a lot to say on the subject!