This wonderful time of year is when we remember that a small business can be both a blessing and a curse.
The curse, needless to say, has to do with the demanding nature of the gig; owning, running and working in a small business can be incredibly time consuming and often overwhelming. And worse, given the current state of the economy here in Oregon, small business owners are now doing more with less: less money, fewer employees, fewer resources. As such, the demand on our time is greater than ever.
But it is equally true that our glorious Oregon summers call out to us, making sure that we take notice of the blessing, namely, the freedom to call your own shots and do it your way. If the kids want you to steal away for a day to take them rafting down the river, you can. If your pals want to kidnap you for an afternoon round of golf, there you go.
And even so, it is important to remember that not all business is done at business.
Indeed, some of the best opportunities and connections arise when you let go and say yes to the new experiences that can be yours in the summertime, even if there is still work to finish back at the office.
This is the time of year when everyone is a little more relaxed and the chance to socialize is at its peak. That backyard barbecue, those drinks after work, that walk down the riverbank not only serve to recharge your batteries, but just may lead to business opportunities and relationships to which you otherwise would not be exposed.
Example: When I moved here almost a decade ago, I met a great guy who kept inviting me to a yearly event called “Men’s Camp.” Many of the Jewish guys here in Portland have a longstanding tradition of taking over the local B’Nai B’rith camp on the Coast for a week every summer and spend it golfing, playing poker, smoking cigars, kibitzing and having fun. Even better: The event is an annual fundraiser for the camp and raises a lot of money to send needy kids to the camp, improve the facilities and so on.
And every year I said no. I was too busy with my business. I couldn’t get away from the family for that long, blah, blah, blah. (I should have read this column.)
Finally, one year I said yes, and everything changed. First of all, I met a great group of guys. Second, it was a blast. And it was all for a good cause; we did it for the kids. Moreover, from a business perspective, quite a few of the guys ended up doing business with one another.
The point is, summers offer you a unique opportunity to take advantage of the blessings in your small business and curse the curse. So what if there is work to do, isn’t there always work to do? That too-full inbox can wait one more day.
So go on, get out of the office — today, right now! Organize a get-together. Accept an invitation. Just say yes.
Because as we all know, before long we will be hibernating again, the moment will have passed, and that is the real curse.
Steve Strauss is the small business columnist for USATODAY.com and the author of The Small Business Bible. He lives in Portland and can be reached at
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