I’m humbled to say that my company will celebrate its second birthday in two weeks. I know that sounds small–not a big deal–but I’m humbled nonetheless. I’m equally grateful. So many amazing people have supported my vision and ideas that it’s not easy anymore to make a short list of folks who have been influential, inspirational, and practical. Two years ago the Missus and I sat on our patio playing “What if?” What if I was able to find a small group of business owners who shared my beliefs and enthusiasm? What if I was able to share insights and perspectives that were relevant to a handful of these people? What if I was able to deliver services that would help these people? What if I were able to support my family doing something I love? Like lots of small businesses my company started with a “What if?”
Two years later the questions have changed. This year I’ve had to ask “What if?” differently. “What If” I can’t be in two cities at once? “What if” I have to say ‘no’ more than ‘yes’ because I’m simply out of time (I’m not good at this)? “What if” this thing takes off? “What if” this is actually working!?
“What if” my company is actually working…?
The freshman year felt simpler. Have a vision, produce a product, share it, be incredibly thankful just to be alive and viable. This year the questions (and answers) are more complicated. I can only imagine that these complexities increase over time. I’ve become more worrisome as I’ve learned about the limitations and opportunities inherent in owning a growing company. For me at least these worries are motivating and a bit neurotic. So as MAP Consulting turns two I find myself worrying far more…
Is this sustainable? Are the ideas meaningful to my friends? Are the deliverables as good as they can be? Is the bottom line healthy? Is there a five-year plan? Is there a ten year plan? Who else can I find to do this job and help me out? Where can I find good people? What if I get hurt? What if I get sick? What if I have a son or daughter? Am I a good husband? What if clients go elsewhere? What if I run out of energy? What if jet lag finally gets the better of me? What am I willing to sacrifice for this? Are those sacrifices worth it? Where’s the inspiration? What am I missing? Am I complacent? Do I know my numbers well enough? Am I a holistic business person? Is my bookkeeper pissed off? How am I an asset to my clients? What are the limitations of my own understanding? Is my research on-point? Am I loyal to my customers? Do I network enough? Do I have a ‘brand’ that is truthful? Do people think I’m full of shit? Can I prove results? Do I have a business plan that makes sense? Do I spend enough time marketing my company? Where is new business coming from? What am I doing to secure existing business? Why haven’t I published something? Will I be here next year…?
Which is to say that now, a couple of years in to this, I have a deeper appreciation and understanding of the endless list of questions that many of my friends and clients face and have faced every day for decades. I am “enfant terrible” in the world of private business and am thankful to have a chair at the kid’s table…just within eyesight of where the grown-ups sit.
The people whom I work with have faced these worries and continue to face them every day. They’ve earned their stripes. “Ten years of trying makes you look like an overnight success,” someone said. More true than ever tonight. It takes a unique fortitude to accept the statistical likelihood of failure yet still wake up in the morning, arm yourself with ardent confidence, and get to work. There’s nothing glamorous about this (trust me, I’m in a Courtyard Marriott tonight). But that’s not why it matters. It matters because you are Creating on your terms rather than someone else’s.
This all may very well collapse, my business. I accept that. I’m not afraid of failure. I’ve been there before. But If I’m smart enough and work smartly I can build something bigger than myself. Better than myself. The best of myself. I share that faith with my friends and customers. And now I’ll worry about that as well…
So here’s to the people who have and are supporting my company, my family, and my belief for two years: Thank you. I wouldn’t be here without you. Your friend, Matt