This week is officially Small Business Week. The attorneys at Russell, Krafft & Gruber work with many small businesses every day. Personally, I love to work with family–owned businesses, and get to know the family and what makes them and their business special. In honor of the well-deserved recognition small business owners are receiving this week, I wanted to offer some advice and encouragement to the many small businesses in our community. I didn’t want to do the typical “here is a problem and here is how to fix it” post about the problems that small businesses face – taxes, employees, contracts, security, technology, and all of that stuff. This post is a thank you to small businesses.
Many small businesses start because of a personal interest or expertise. So rather than bore with you legalese I thought I’d share , a link between my interests and small business that might not come to mind.
My son is a huge professional wrestling fan. Because of him, I am also a professional wrestling fan. It is a special bond that we share. He started watching when he was probably 7 years old. Now he’s almost 16, taller than me, with a handful of hairs sticking off of his chin. But we share wrestling. When something happens on a Monday night show, it is the first thing he wants to talk about on Tuesday morning. He and I have traveled to Giants Stadium to see Wrestlemania with 90,000 fans. We have also been in the Palmer Center in Easton with 300 people in the stands, or the American Legion in Hellertown with maybe 75 people. We have watched the biggest movie star in the world – Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson — and we have seen someone wrestle dressed up as a Space Monkey.
What does this have to do with small business? The head of the Small Business Administration is Linda McMahon. She is the wife of Vince McMahon, the head of World Wrestling Entertainment. She has been part of storylines and has appeared in the ring. Linda McMahon has suffered a nervous breakdown, been committed to a “sanitarium” and lapsed into a coma. She drank beer with “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. She took a stunner from Austin, been slapped by her daughter numerous times, and ended a bunch of fights with well-placed kicks. (Don’t worry about me — I know it is not real. But for the sake of this post, go with me for a bit.)
It strikes me that every small business can take away some lessons from Linda McMahon.
Your Business is Unique
There is no set script or path that a small business must take. I haven’t done a ton of research into this, but I believe this is the first time someone went from wrestling villain to a cabinet position (I don’t know what Gorgeous George did when he retired – he may have worked in the Nixon administration). You do not have to do the same things as everyone else. Figure out what is important to you – however you define “important” – and work towards that every day.
Vince and Linda McMahon are worth millions of dollars. But when they thought it was important, they threw themselves into on-screen roles, helping the most popular period ever in wrestling. I see too many small businesses get into trouble when the person who built the business stops paying attention to the operations. I am not suggesting that anyone continue working 60 hour weeks as they get older. But you should figure out how to maintain a presence in your business.
Over her storylines, McMahon sided both with and against her husband, her daughter, her son-in-law, and various wrestlers. Small businesses need to adapt to changes. Whether it is a new market opportunity, expansion or relocation of the business, or the loss of a key employee, you need to be able to change to make the most of these moments.
Use What You Know
McMahon worked as a paralegal in a North Carolina law firm early in the marriage. She specialized in intellectual law matters. Later, she used this background to trademark popular names and slogans, and to negotiate merchandise deals. This explains why there is a different John Cena T-shirt every other month. Your business is successful because of what you bring to it. Always take advantage of your knowledge, experience and training. On the other hand, find help for the things you do not know about. Your business is probably better off with you focusing on the things you are best at, rather than you trying to learn everything about every topic or problem that you face.
Aaron Marines is an attorney at Russell, Krafft & Gruber, LLP, in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He received his law degree from Widener University and practices in a variety of areas including Business, Commercial Real Estate, Land Use, Land Planning and Zoning matters. His favorite wrestler is The Heartbreak Kid, Shawn Michaels.