Entrepreneurship: Staying the course during tough times
By: ellis j. still

Being an entrepreneur is not easy. People see the glamour and prestige of being able to say that they are a business owner, but most people do not understand what it takes to be one. The are high levels of stress at times, with the pressure of knowing that you are responsible for the lives of the employees that work for you just as much as they are responsible for showing up for work.

In my capacity in urban planning & design, my firm, like most firms, is weathering the storm of change from both external market influences and internal transitions. This is the nature of business. However, it seems that in small business, changes have more of a direct affect on people than in larger companies.

In many cases, people would jump ship towards a more stable situation, and there is a perception that many of us are around because there are no jobs. But quite the contrary, many of us are still on the job because we believe in the long-term vision of what the company is about. We believe in the leadership. We believe in the company culture that is about personal and professional growth… about people.

I consider life experiences to be teachable moments. The goal is to not just have a job and get paid, but to grow and maturate along the way. People who have hardened hearts, who are offended at the prospect of getting positive feedback, are not wise enough to take in what is around them… who are narrow minded, rigid, and not open to growth and learning eventually get left behind.

The senior partner is my mentor of sorts. While we have never gone as deep as to form a mentoring relationship, but I value watching and making note of how he handles different situations. His steadfastness. His unwavering commitment to make the company succeed, while also doing his best to create a good working atmosphere for his coworkers. Leading by setting the example. Character. Ethics. Admitting to mistakes. Transparency.

My pastor has a saying that he refers to frequently: “my imagination needs stimulation from association with successful others”. Every successful business owner has someone (or several someone’s) to model after in how they do business. I have several, but I am fortunate to have one that I interact with on a regular basis.

© 2010, Ellis J. Still. All rights reserved