On this rainy West Coast Sunday morning I'm thinking about how many contractors I have personally talked to over the years that have told me that they grew their business to sometimes 2 or 3 dozen people, only to hit a major crisis (health, family, bankruptcy, lawsuit, etc) and decide to scale back, way back, to just themselves and a helper.
Like a cool Sunday morning rain, running a small business is just more laid-back.
Small is low risk. Small is low stress. Small is manageable. Small is profitable. Small is freedom...
As the saying goes: "Stay small, keep it all."
Reminds me of a parable I've heard several times over the years from different sources. It is about a Brazilian, or Mexican, ah let's just call him a Spanish fisherman...
One morning before lunch he paddles his small boat to shore with a several big fish. There happens to be a man, an investment banker on vacation, who notices his catch for the day. Impressed, the man asks 'How log does it take you to catch such nice load of fish?'
The fisherman replies 'Oh, not long. A few hours.'
Confused, the man asks 'So why don't you stay out longer and catch more fish?'
To which the fisherman replies 'Well, I have cought enough to feed my whole family for the day and a little extra to sell at the market.'
Curious, the businessman asks 'So what do you do with the rest of your day?'
'I come home, have lunch with my family. Then I play with my children and I have a siesta with my wife in the afternoon. After that I meet my friends in the village for a drink and we play music and sing and dance and laugh well into the night.' replies the poor fisherman.
The businessman notices the opportunity that the fisherman is passing up, and decides to share some tips. 'I'm a PhD in business and can help you grow your business and become more successful. Since you have the time, you should try catching as many fish as possible. When you have saved enough money you can buy a larger boat and catch even more fish. Eventually you can afford to have several boats and hire men to to do the fishing for you, while you focus on business matters. In time, you can open a processing plant and make more money on all the fish you catch. Then you can move to a large city and manage your growing business from there.'
'That sounds like a lot of work! Why would I want to do all of that?' asks the fisherman.
'In time you will be able to take your company public on the stock market, or sell it to investors. Then you will have a lot of money and be able to finally live the life of your dreams' says the rich banker.
The fisherman wonders 'And what would I do with all this money and freedom?'
'Well, that is the best part' says the banker, 'then you can retire and move to the ocean, do a little fishing, spend time with your family, have siestas and meet your friends to have a good time!'
I love this story so much. There is no need to defer our life for several decades while we sacrifice the important things in the pursuit of the illusion of wealth. It is important, critical, that we determine what is important to us, our values, and align our life - our work, our goals, our time - with those values. That is true wealth.
For further reading on this I suggest the book: THRIVE by Dan Buettner