Can Your Business Be Big Enough?

June 17, 2022

Sharon runs a small music studio out of her home teaching local kids how to play the piano. It's a great business, too! She works only 4 days per week, clocks in less than 30 hours of work, and gets paid a high hourly rate. In her 20s, she was a Master's student at Louisiana State University studying piano. She went on to teach private lessons, eventually managing a burgeoning studio that gainfully employed several teachers and staff. She eventually left the field and became a stay-at-home mother for many years.

Now, her small business has been around for over a decade, but she never transitioned from teaching out of the living room of her home in Washington state. No studio staff, no other teachers, no overhead to worry about. Just her, a beautiful wooden baby grand piano, and the children that come to her for lessons.

I've always admired my mom's business.

It was hard to go a day without hearing some student poorly play Chopsticks through the thin wooden door of my bedroom or trip up when learning a complex piece while I worked out math problems at our kitchen table. As I got older, my mom continued to teach out of my childhood home; still the same schedule, but with new students. As a business school student, I often questioned my mom's choice to keep her business small - why keep this tiny operation in our living room going when she could so easily expand? Hire some other teachers? Increase her rates?

She wouldn't have any of it.

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What do you want from your business?

Every entrepreneur needs to define "how big" they want their business to be eventually. If you don't answer this question for your own business, you run the risk of creating something that doesn't align with your interests and desires, eventually contributing to burnout or just a fiery blaze of complexity-driven failure.

Defining how large you want your business to be is often a yearly revenue goal, but it doesn't have to be restricted to the amount of money you're bringing in. Your ideal business size could be a number of employees, an impact on your community, or the number of people you're aiming to serve.

As an entrepreneur you generally have two choices: your business can be built as an extension of your lifestyle or it can take on a life of its own eventually surpassing you. You can create a business totally reliant on yourself if the work is fulfilling and beautiful while still being able to take time for yourself. You could also create the world's next largest company, trying to surpass trillions of dollars in revenue as your enterprise conquers all.

I think most people fall somewhere in between.

My mom's business was big enough; not something that you hear all too often in this age of massive scale and exponential growth.

Her business was a simple extension of who she was, it enabled her the flexibility to send her kids to college, and it was fulfilling. There was no need to make something bigger. Besides, that would come with far too much stress and headache; she wanted simplicity.

So, can your business be big enough? I think it can, but you've got to define what "enough" looks like first. Without that, you're just building for building's sake.

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Jeremy Millar
Written by:
Jeremy Millar

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