Friday, June 4, 2010

The joy of owning a business

From the 07 June 2010 Greater Niagara Newspapers

By Bob Confer

Owning a business comes with a lot of risk. Just a few of the things that keep entrepreneurs up at night are: Will we survive the Recession? Will I have to layoff anyone and if so who? What can we do to retain and attract new customers? How much debt should we carry? How much credit should we extend to our clients? How do we beat our competition?

Those questions are the tip of the iceberg. There are many more to be asked and most remain unanswered for incredible lengths of time, gnawing at your gut and prematurely graying your hair.

Many people who don’t have an ownership role know this and ask, “Why would someone ever want to own a company?”

Well, despite all of the stresses and stressors that come with the responsibility, I wouldn’t want to live my life any other way. There’s something to be said about the philosophical and emotional rewards that come with being an active participant in our great free-market system, something that is made possible and best achieved in this great country of ours. The joys are a plenty, but they can all be boiled down to the American Dream being played out before my eyes.

It was the Dream of my Grandfather to start his own company and I take pride in extending to future generations what he and my dad begat. A creative man who toiled in the labs and factories of a fledgling plastics industry in the 1950s and 1960s, Grandfather wanted to break the bounds of conformity and have the freedom to develop new technologies and applications. So, he literally bet the farm on his endeavor and he and my dad started the company in 1973. In the years since, their American Dream has been realized, the company providing a means to think and act creatively and freely, manufacturing goods while providing a living for 170 families.

It’s rewarding to see those coworkers achieve their own American Dreams. Many of them work hard and save wisely, affording them the chance to, depending on what stage they are at in the lives, savor their personal pursuits and interests, buy their cars and homes, raise a family, help put their kids through college and tend to their grandchildren. Working diligently, they live an old fashioned American life, reaping the benefits of their efforts while not having everything handed to them by the government. It’s an awesome feeling to know that we’re a productive bunch of workers who live comfortably while actually making things, a true rarity in today’s service-and-government-heavy economy.

And it’s those things that we make that further our client’s version of the American Dream. It’s such a great feeling to think that someone came to us with something that was no more than an idea that we transformed into an honest-to-goodness object, like kayaks being enjoyed by a vacationing family or docks being used by armed forces to protect waterways the world over. Everywhere you look there may be something we designed, molded, assembled, and shipped. There’s a serious “wow factor” that comes with that, just as there is with thinking about how that product helped our client achieve his Dream while he, too, is employing people and helping them to achieve theirs…just as we are to our suppliers and vendors who are realizing their Dreams, too.

Owning a business comes with its heartaches (emotional and even physical), that’s for sure. But, above all, it can be exciting, exhilarating and totally rewarding. You end most days knowing you and your team accomplished something special. Nothing this side of getting married and having kids is as fulfilling as making a go at it and experiencing those constant victories – both large and small – that come with working with others to make your products or deliver your services.

If running your own company is something that’s always crossed your mind, do it…you won’t regret it!

No comments: