Anatomy of a Small Business

bizAnatomy of a Small Business
By Michael McLean

On Saturday, February 26, 1994, I made the seemingly insane decision to leave the security of my management job in Corporate America to launch my small business – an insurance agency. Finding myself with not enough money, skill, or clients, I surveyed the small 150-square-foot room I had rented on Lake Mary Boulevard  manuals piled up in a corner, unconnected PCs laying around, and trash cans overflowing with discarded papers. What a mess!

I sat back at the desk I had borrowed from home and soaked in my situation. I needed to get up, clean up, and set up. This was when I realized that, unlike my previous position, there was only one person at the Michael J McLean Agency to do all of those things and, you guessed it  that would be me. At that moment it truly hit home what an exciting adventure I was about to embark on. Amazingly the manuals got organized, the PCs were connected and operating, and the mess was cleaned up prior to our grand opening. Monday morning, February 28, more than 20 years ago, was the birth of another small business in America.

A few months later I joined the Rotary Club of Lake Mary. The first activity as a new Rotarian was the Rinehart Road Cleanup event. My partner for the day was then Lake Mary Police Chief Richard Beary  a class act in every way. After spending the day together, we got to know each other quite well. Chief Beary became one of my very first clients, and is to this day.

The next few years were challenging for me and for my family – a lot of dollars going out, and not enough coming in. There were many, many times during those difficult days that I leaned on my father’s words, “Making it as a small business is supposed to be hard,” he told me. “Otherwise everyone would do it.”

But I kept at it – and opportunities started to present themselves. I joined the local chamber of commerce and was soon elected to serve on the board of directors. I had the opportunity to serve as president of my Rotary Club. It seems that deep in the DNA of many small business owners is a sense of giving back to their community – perhaps not with dollars, but with time and energy. The unintended consequence being involved in the community is making relationships that often result in business.

Being a small business owner gives you a unique community and personal perspective. You are responsible for your employees’ welfare, you learn what it’s like to make a payroll, and that sometimes you go without so that you can meet your commitments.

By 2009 my small business had grown to eight employees who occupied 1,600 square feet of office space. Since that time we’ve been honored with some very flattering awards, but I’d say that the most rewarding part of building my small business is that it has allowed me the opportunity to serve the community that I love.

Things have come full circle as I was recently asked to step up as chair of the small business committee of the Seminole County Regional Chamber of Commence. It was a position I quickly accepted.

After all, I might know a little bit about that!

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