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Is small business ownership a career?

Johnny Bunko

Dan Pink is the author of two very important books on ideas around careers – Free Agent Nation and A Whole New Mind. If you own a small business, that’s your current career – but I wonder how many small business owners actually view it that way?

In Free Agent Nation he defined what a lot people were starting to feel, that it was becoming cool to do your own thing, start a business or just jump from project to project.

In A Whole New Mind he revealed a great deal about the nature of the Free Agent Work and how it had changed from information work to strategic, right-brain work.

I caught up with him for a recent episode of the Duct Tape Marketing podcast to discuss his latest take on work called The Adventures of Johnny Bunko – The last career guide you will ever need. One of the most intriguing elements of the book is that it’s written in the Japanese comic style known as manga – a book style known in the US primarily by teens, but widely used to communicate every possible topic to kids and adults in Japan.

One of my favorite lessons (there are six in all) is – There is no plan.

Now, Pink has written this book in the point of view of career guide, but every word of it applies to the small business, even if it hadn’t dawned on you that your business is a career.

With that in mind, I share Pink’s notion about “the big plan” – I believe that small business owners need to have an intention, a vision – the big idea, but sometimes you’ve got to let go of just exactly how you get there. Sticking to the plan is what often stifles opportunity. I’m not suggesting that you use this bit of advice as an excuse to tilt at windmills, I’m just saying, create the vision and let go of some of details.

Don’t confuse what I said above as a dis of planning, I’m also a big fan of planning – not because of the end results, a neatly bound document, because of the process and what it means to creating, keeping and growing the vision.

Actively participate in planning, stoke the vision, but understand that sometimes just getting up tomorrow with an open mind and paying attention to what’s happening in this moment is the plan.

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  • http://www.business-growth.com Dana Suazo

    Your article makes perfect sense. It also seems though that several small business owners do have several great ideas, and put plans in place, but they get stuck running the business that they don’t implement any of their great ideas.

  • http://www.infusionsoft.com Clate Mask

    I love planning and I love adaptive execution, so it’s probably no surprise that the balance between planning and execution is one of my favorite subjects. To me, the effective entrepreneur is the one who sets a plan, charges hard to execute the plan and has the good sense to adapt the plan along the way.

    Having said that, I’ll take immediate action over long, drawn-out planning any day of the week and twice on Sunday.

  • http://www.easyseo.co.za Easy SEO

    Hi John

    I am going to stick to the heading but not really the article.

    Your really caught my attention with “Is small business ownership a career”.

    Without a doubt it is, Owners of business (small) are striving to do there job as best as possible. They have chosen a career in their business.

    The Oxford English Dictionary says one’s career is one’s “course or progress through life (or a distinct portion of life)”. As of 2006, the word usually only pertains to one’s remunerative work (and sometimes also formal education).

    Thus the remuneration for work.

    I am a small business owner and what I do is my career, I just choose to work for myself as oppose to someone else.

  • http://www.onlineinfobiz.com Deb Kenyon-Roberts

    Hi John,

    Great post, thanks, and these look like some books I need to be reading too – I’m going to add them to my (ever-growing) list.

    I really agree with your idea about entrepreneurs and small business owners needing to have a vision, but that the plan sometimes can’t be stuck with. I am one for big blue sky visions (thinking bigger than I can possibly know how I’m going to get from here to there), and I think those kinds of visions are so important. Because they’re based on me, my core values, what I feel my life really should be about.

    But I can be hopeless when it comes to making detailed plans about just how I’m going to implement/manifest that vision. So I do tend to take the suck-it-and-so, or go-with-the-flow approach sometimes.

    As I’ve just got started on my own online business recently, that has kind of been borne out.

    But on the other hand, I’ve also seen the value of having a proven system (I’m being mentored by some entrepreneurs who’ve already become succesful) to work from. That’s really helped me to keep a focus on doing the nitty-gritty day to day and not go off in visionary flights of fancy (as I have a habit of doing).

    Thanks for prompting my own musings on this. :)

    I spy some great recent posts on this blog (listed below as I type this) so I am off to bookmark you right now, I’ll be back! :))

    Thanks again & all the best,
    Deb
    Blogging about My First Dollar Online
    http://www.onlineinfobiz.com

    PS Do feel free to drop by my blog if you get a chance, I’d love to here your thoughts on what I’ve got up to so far (still *very* much a work in progress though!)