Who Influences You And How Did You Get Here?

Influence is the ability to have an effect on the character of someone or something.  At it’s Latin roots the word (influere) means into+flow or inflow.   How we function in business is influenced by others.  There are key ideas that flow into our thinking and affect our bottom line. We are not islands.  We are heavily influenced by one another, what we read, what we learn and what we have experienced.

Since Small Business Trends and SmallBizTechnology intend to celebrate the small business influencers in our lives, it really has me thinking about the core values and ideas that shape the way we see and handle business.  

Who influences you?  How did you get here?

decision time

Great ideas are exciting, but it’s the actions that empower those ideas to change our lives.  I have a chance to meet a lot of people with a lot of ideas but only a handful of these (would-be) small business owners seem to move forward and actually create something that their customers can touch and feel.   Below are three influencers that can help you act on your ideas:

First Hand Experience.

First hand experience is priceless.  Growing up in a family of small business owners, working for others and then comparing that to working in the business has taught me things that I didn’t know that I knew until I needed it in my own business.  In “Business Success Runs in the Family,” Anita Campbell says, “Individuals with experience working in a family-owned business are much more likely to be successful in their own businesses.”

And some of you thought the family business was a pain.  It’s more like school.  Some key lessons that I learned come from successes and failures (you can learn one way or another) including:

  • Have the guts to make something happen now.
  • Have the patience to create a framework that will allow it to last.
  • Build and protect your team, because you cannot do it alone (forever).

But everyone doesn’t come from a family business back ground.  However, we all have first hand experiences that have influenced the way we do business.

What first hand experiences have mentored you?

Direct Counseling.

Sometimes you just need a sounding board.   The Small Business Development Center (SBDC) provides counseling and targeted training during that all important start up phase as well as throughout your business, if you accept it.   My counselor gave me, what I call the “round-hole, square-peg” advice.  “I don’t want you to force a fit,” she said.  “You know those little toys that you played with as a child.  The square pegs don’t fit in the round holes.”  It was simple but it made me rethink my entire business model until I found something that did fit my nature.  That bit of advice saved me a lot of pain and money by motivating me to get clear about the kind of business that I truly wanted.

In order to help you get your mission and your company objectives together, here are some of the tough and simple questions that she asked:

  • What do you want from this business?
  • Why do you want this particular business?
  • Do you really want it for the reason that you said?
  • Is this business the best way for you to get what you want?

Whose counsel—in person, in a book, in a video series—helped you at a key phase in your small business?

Ongoing Training And Exposure.

Things move fast.  Changes come quick.

I mean, the iPad 2 is out now (and I’m already waiting for iPad 3), when 2 years ago—to the general public—the idea of an iPad didn’t exist.  As small business owners many of us can’t live without cloud computing and social networks like Twitter and Facebook seem crucial to business.  But 10 years ago, what were we doing?

All this changing lets us know that we need ongoing training as well as constant exposure to principles and the new tools that (will) drive our business—so that we’re relevant no matter what.

One of the ongoing influencers is my small business life is the Third Tribe Marketing community because it puts a variety of outside the box, highly effective, online small business owners in front of the tribe monthly.  Another community filled with ongoing training is Small Business Trends, but I don’t think we can nominate ourselves.

Who repeatedly influences you in your business thinking and strategy?  Whose ideas flow into you and help you change your small business for the better?

When you figure out who they are, then consider nominating them as a Small Business Influencer for 2011.


Jamillah Warner Jamillah Warner (Ms.J), a poet with a passion for business, is a Georgia-based writer and speaker and the Marketing Coordinator at Nobuko Solutions. She also provides marketing and communication quick tips in her getCLEAR! MicroNewsletter.

3 Reactions
  1. Hi Jamillah!
    It’s crazy that I came across this post today as I recently posted one myself about how I got where I am today. I grew up in a family business and that has really shaped the business person I have become. I think we possess something inherent that makes us want to take charge and make things happen instead of working for someone else the rest of our lives.

  2. This is an excellent post. I could make an argument on several POV’s…nonetheless, your overall comments are dead-solid perfect.

    Young lady, you need to be in front of a classroom of impressionable minds.


  3. Jamillah Warner

    @ Neal O’Sullivan, Thank you!

    @ Alicia Jay — I agree, the family business does change how you see life and business. You experience so many things first hand, I think certain lifetime and professionally skills are developed naturally–although there is always more to learn.