I think a lot of us spend time playing small and making excuses for why we don’t invest our time into things we feel would have a real impact on humanity.
After returning from a business development trip in Honduras nearly 5 years ago, I felt completely paralyzed.
A part of me was energized by the opportunities that micro-finance was bringing to people around the globe (particularly the people we were working with in Tegucigalpa), while another part of me felt like the problem was just too big. I didn’t see how I could be a part of the solution and I’ve been left making excuses ever since about why I don’t actively engage in helping people in developing nations build small businesses. Here were my excuses pre-Kenya:
–> I need to spend time developing a bigger network so I can have more resources to work with.
–> I need more experience as a business owner myself. Hell, as a business owner AT ALL in order to bring legitimacy and relevance to the people in need.
–> I need to make more money.
–> Why would I try and start a micro-finance program when there are so many established organizations (and people) who have been doing it longer with greater resources and experience?
Armed with all of those excuses, it’s no wonder I’ve made ZERO impact in an area that makes my heart skip a beat anytime I read, hear or talk about it. Pretty lame if you ask me.
While I was in Kenya, I was able to host a seminar about micro-finance and branding with Opportunity Kenya. The men and women who came to the seminar were looking for suggestions on how to grow existing businesses and stay competitive. Much like entrepreneurs in the states, they were in similar battles of supply and demand, work/life balance, over-saturation in their markets and not working with their ideal customers.
As I sat there and observed the dialog, I realized the foundational work we do at B!G DEAL BRANDING (particularly Brand Therapy) is exactly what these people needed in order to think differently about their role as a business owner. I jumped in and started talking about their values, strengths, partnering with people who have complimentary skills, and what it would look like if they were able to attract the ideal customer. The conversation was electrifying and I found myself so excited about their goals and dreams for both their lives and their businesses. I listened as women talked about their ideas for the next phase of their business that would not only allow their children to continue going to school, but would also employee multiple women in their neighborhood who were out of work. The motivation for these business owners was to give as many people in their sphere of influence a chance at a better life. And suddenly I felt like my experience and passions were aligning perfectly with a real need in this community.
I realized that, despite the number of people invested in micro-finance around the world, there is still room for me to contribute. I have the passion, resources and experience necessary to be a part of the conversation. And I’m not trying to change the world. I’m just trying to make the lives of a dozen business owners better with a few ideas, some tangible solutions and doing what I can to connect them to people on the ground who can be more accessible. None of the excuses I had before are valid anymore and the affirmation that one person can actually serve a part in making this world a little better was so encouraging.
I know there are a lot of issues to tackle out there and a lot of people in real pain who need our help. And I used to be as cynical as the next about how one person can make a real difference in this world. But when you get to know real people, hear their stories and be in a place to offer them real solutions … there’s no denying that every.single.person.matters. The craziest thing is that to make a difference, you don’t have to know how to build houses, start businesses or be a teacher. You just have to show up and let people know you are FOR them. I love that. No hiding behind excuses anymore … we all need to do our part.
Read more about how you can get involved with helping small business owners here.