Self-limitation (2)

Recently I spoke with two small business owners over the course of three weeks. Both men are in their early fifties and have run their respective businesses 25 years or so. One owns a successful body shop, along with a feed store and a lawnmower dealership. The other owns two funeral homes along with one other business.

It was fascinating to talk with them, and learn about their operations. How long does it take from beginning to end to repair and paint a vehicle? How many funerals do you have to do in a year to break even?

In addition to having the heart of an entrepreneur the two guys share other similarities. They built their businesses from the ground up—they did not inherit a family business. They have seen good years and bad years. They are not afraid of hard work, they want to be their own boss, and they are willing to take a risk.

When quizzing them about how they got started, both shared a strikingly similar story. The body shop owner learned the craft from others straight out of high school and launched out on his own while still in his 20’s. The second man likewise opened his first funeral home in his 20’s and then added another location in his 40’s. And here is where they used the same line. As they talked about their start, both chuckled and said, “If I had known back then what I know now, I don’t know whether I would have done it or not.”

They both had faced lean days where they were not sure whether they could make payroll or not.  Plummeting economy, unreliable employees, sleepless nights—they had seen it all. And now on the backside of success, they wondered how in the world they had survived.

Sometimes ignorance is bliss—not knowing a thing cannot be done. We are forced to jump in there and start paddling in the river of life as fast as we can.

A question worth asking at any stage of life is where am I allowing the fear of failure to hold me back?