Identifying as a Small Businessman

bihn bag Identifying as a Small BusinessmanMonths into my new life as a small-businessman, I still stumble on the old question "What do you do?"

But I am getting better. This weekend, at the Beltane party, I started to answer "I’m a programmer…", but then caught myself and said, "Actually these days I am a small business owner. I went into business for myself earlier this year with a couple partners."

I really love identifying myself this way. It has something to do with the fact that my father was a small business owner, which I always admired and knew I wanted to emulate some day. It also has something to do with the fact that people don’t seem to glaze over quite so quickly when you talk about starting a business.

In the past, I often found that people would pigeonhole me quickly if I would talk about programming and why I liked it. "He’s into computers, I’m not.", "He’s into computers and that is boring." or sadly enough often, "He’s a Linux guy, I’m a Windows guy, so he must hate me."

But if I talk about the challenges with building a business, getting clients, and really talking with them, I find that I usually connect. Everyone, even employees, face some of those problems. Whether the difficulty with communicating, or with coming to an agreement about what needs to be done, or even difficulties getting paid in a timely manner.

I’m trying to use these opportunities to polish my "elevator pitch" about my business. Not so much in the hope that these people will hire me, but to try it out in various ways and get good at delivering a short, punchy summary of what we do and why we love it. If I can keep them interested for 30 seconds then I might have a better shot at the next big client.

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