Is that a light at the end of the tunnel?

The CLIMB (Continuous Learning for Individuals, Management and Business) center at Portland Community College.  One of many SBDC (Small Business Development Center) locations in the area.

The CLIMB (Continuous Learning for Individuals, Management and Business) center at Portland Community College.  One of many SBDC (Small Business Development Center) locations in the area.

No, it isn't.  But it is a light on top of a miners hard hat, worn by someone who can help show me the way.

I've considered myself a businessman for some time.  In sales I was responsible for negotiating pricing, generating new business, and handling customer disputes.  That is a good foundation, but nothing compared to being a small business owner.  Not only am I still responsible for all of those things, but I'm also responsible for all the tings other people used to do like accounting, accounts receivable, asset management, marketing, licensing, legal, and who knows what else.  I'm also responsible for figuring out what else I'm responsible for!

This can be a daunting task.  Up until yesterday I was navigating this all by myself.  The deeper into this tunnel I get, and the more wrong turns I make, the harder this gets.  What a relief to finally get some help navigating.  Yesterday was my orientation with the Small Business Development Center at Portland Community College.  Not only was there someone there at the front of the class to help evaluate the individual needs of each business in the room and direct them to the resources available, but there was a room full of small business owners willing to share lessons they've learned.

At first I felt as though I was not really progressing in my endeavor.  From the moment I decided I was in business I've felt like I was immediately behind.  For every one thing I get done I identify eleventy-nine other things that need to happen.  I've felt myself going deeper into the tunnel and things have only seemed to get darker and muskier.  It wasn't until yesterday that I discovered that I was actually making progress.  Talking to the class and discussing where I'm at, a light came on (on top of my own little miners hard hat),  I'm right where I need to be in the tunnel, and I'm heading the right direction.  I have registered my business with the Secretary of State, I have a employer identification number from the IRS, I have a fully functioning website, business cards, a phone line, I have a product/service that is currently ready for market, I even have a tiny amount of paying customers.

Most of all I have hope.  People must have thought I was crazy when I told the group "I decided to ask money for a product that anybody with a digital camera and an internet connection can produce and instantly have worldwide distribution, and buyers can get an almost infinite amount of this product for cheap or free!"  Although, they didn't think I was crazy.  They considered my dilemma, ensured me it wasn't unique, told me there is no guarantee of success, and offered wisdom and help. 

I'll be looking forward to growing this business as smartly as possible.  One day I'll look at a well run professional business that not only focuses on providing excellent products and services to loyal clients but without fail delivers on those ideals and say, "I remember when all this was just a dream on my couch."  On that day, I'll wake up, put on my minors hard hat, switch on the light, and keep digging.