survey of small business owners by Citibank generated a flurry of news stories last week, similar to this one, whose headline blared that more than half of business owners have gone without pay; a quarter of them for a year or more.
This is probably news to only those who don't own a small business. Owning a business -- especially in its formative years -- is not the path to Easy Street that those who don't own or run a business may assume. Asked to name a movie that epitomizes the small business lifestyle, it surely would not be Putting on the Ritz.
Many owners I work with take far more pride in, and get much more satisfaction from, creating jobs than improving their bank balances. When we discuss their personal needs and visions, getting rich seldom enters the conversation.
The news stories generated by the Citibank survey aren't false, per se, they just miss the point. Of course owners pay themselves last, or not at all. Owning a business involves personal risk, sacrifice, blood, sweat, tears, and more. For many, the rewards are significant even if not remunerative. They are investing in, and invested in, building something to last.
If small business owners were to star in a movie, it would be something like Cinderella Man, a classic (and true) story of triumph through perseverance, luck, hard-headedness and the ability to take a few shots to the kisser. My favorite scene is where boxer Jim Braddock's wife calls at the lavish apartment building of his trainer/promoter to find the apartment bare, with a card table and folding chairs in the dining room. The furniture had been sold so that Braddock could train. "You just don't want folks to see you down, is all....Always keep your hands up."
In other words, you sacrifice for the greater good. Just like running a business.