My father owned a little grocery store in Western Oklahoma. By any of the standard definitions provided by such entities as the Small Business Administration and the Internal Revenue Service it would be considered a “small” business or even a “micro business”. However, there was absolutely NOTHING small about what Smith Grocery and Tom Smith did. He bought the business in 1971, leaving a promising corporate career for the sake of providing his family the opportunity to grow up in God’s Country, Roger Mills County. He opened his doors every day before 7 am, worked hard serving his beloved CUSTOMERS all day long, then swept and mopped the floors himself every night. And he did every bit of it with a sense of absolute joy that I attempt to replicate, but will never equal, in my own work. And I absolutely LOVE my work!
It was always very clear that my father loved what he did, but it wasn’t until recently that I gained an appreciation for what his business meant to his customers. I had the unique opportunity to speak at an event at my old high school some time ago. After my talk, I got to talking to some of my friends and neighbors from the old days. I got to hear stories about how these folks remembered the old Smith Grocery and my father. I was amazed at what they recalled or how they so highly valued being a customer of the store. One such memory was how they so looked forward to going trick-or-treating at my Dad’s store when they were young, or how excited they were when they had kids of their own to take there. Or how sad they were that there wasn’t a Smith Grocery any more for them to visit on Halloween with their kids. Smith Grocery wasn’t just a business, it was a part of its customers’ lives!
The IRS and the SBA can argue over their definitions of what constitutes a “small business” all they want to. My belief is that there is NOTHING small about a so-called “small business!” NOTHING! Any business that delivers value for its customers is a big business. Any business that positively impacts the lives of its customers is a GIANT, as far as I’m concerned.
The artist cannot look to others to validate his efforts or his calling. If you If you don’t believe me, ask Van Gogh, who produced masterpiece after masterpiece and never found a buyer in his whole life. The artist must operate territorially. He must do his work for its own sake.” – Steven Pressfield, The War of Art