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November 28, 2013

This being Thanksgiving week, we are reminded that as small business owners, we especially have much to be thankful for:

Our families: Of course at the Thanksgiving table when everyone shares what they are thankful for, usually the first and main thing is the love of family. I think this is even truer for the small business owner.

In the first place, it is your partner who accepted your kooky idea to start your own business in the first place. I know that for us, it was not so easy for my wife. At that time, 20 years ago now, I had been working at a big law firm where I made good money and had excellent benefits. My wife was pregnant with our second child and it was December.

In a Dickensonian scene, the partners of the firm called me in and told me I was being fired. Apparently I didn’t “write well enough.” (Ha! Last laughs and all that.) It was then that I came up with my foolproof test for knowing whether you are an entrepreneur or not: Imagine getting fired. How do you feel? If it scares you to death, you are probably not the entrepreneurial type. If instead it gets you excited because you will finally be free to start your own business, then it is the life for you.

My wife was understandably nervous but went along with my plan to start my own law firm. I was fortunate in that I made a profit the very first month, and that venture put me on the path I am on now. Not long after, I was hired to write this column. So, although I don’t have that business anymore, I am still incredibly thankful she said yes.

For most entrepreneurs that I know, it is the love and support of their spouses and partners that makes the dream possible.

Of course, if you have children, you are grateful for them as well, and as a small business owner, that goes double because they are the ones who pitch in when needed, who understand (hopefully!) when you have to work late, and who believe in you.

Our customers: There is a great quote, often attributed incorrectly to Mahatma Gandhi (true attribution is uncertain) that puts it well:

A customer is the most important visitor on our premises. He is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him. He is not an interruption in our work. He is the purpose of it. He is not an outsider in our business. He is part of it. We are not doing him a favor by serving him. He is doing us a favor by giving us an opportunity to do so.

So, dear customer – thank you, thank you, thank you.

Our team: Whether it is valued employees, or a vendor who gave you a break, or an assistant who keeps you on track, or a trustworthy partner, the fact is, no one can run a business all by themselves. It takes a village, as it were, to keep a business alive and on track. And so we are thankful for those people in our village who keep our business on track.

Our country: Wherever you are, if you live in a place that allows you dream, and to start your own business, then you are blessed indeed.

Our readers: Well, this only applies if you are an author or columnist. Well, hey!

Thank you!

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