Small business ownership 'the ride of a lifetime'


Owning your own company isn't for everyone.

But for those of us who love to have a say in forging our futures, it's the job of a lifetime -- and every day I am grateful to our team and our clients for being a part of this dream.

As we celebrate the 15-year anniversary of our company, I've had the chance to reflect why we love what we do and why we are energized as we look to the future and contemplate even better ways to do our work.

Whether you're thinking of starting your own business or already doing so, perhaps these will resonate with you:

We help other companies be successful. In partnership with their marketing and communication teams, we're able to create communications that bring measurable successes.

We're creating jobs. It's ever-so-gratifying to be able to help others sustain themselves and their families by offering them meaningful work. Especially during a time of global financial instability, creating jobs seems like a very real way we can make a difference.

Small is nimble. Having worked in national and international corporate settings (from which I learned much), I can say that I love the responsiveness that comes with being a small business owner. We can make decisions quickly -- unhampered by long review times or bureaucracy -- acting in blink of an eye when needed.

We have skin in the game. As a business owner, I don't look at work as a stepping stone to my next job. This company is our destination -- so we're fully immersed in making it successful. This constancy of purpose and consistency of leadership lends continuity to a company.

We are beholden to no stockholders. As a privately held company, we have the luxury of making decisions for the long-term rather than the short-term--even if that means foregoing immediate financial gains in the interest of building a more sustainable business model.

We get to pick the people we work with. Most of us spend as much or more time during the week with our co-workers as we do with our families, and so the task of selecting high quality, motivated individuals who share one's views of work is indeed one of the great benefits. In our company we just don't tolerate certain things that interfere with productivity or creativity, like laziness, sloppy work, interpersonal squabbles, lack of resourcefulness or an unwillingness to tackle whatever it is that needs to be done. The result is a highly productive, satisfying and collegial environment that allows individuals to pour their energy into their work.

It's never boring. We work in all kinds of industries, markets and media--each of which teaches us something new.

The past 15 years of running this business have given us the chance to meet and learn from fascinating people doing interesting work.

On any given day we might traverse the continent--talking with a client in Los Angeles in the morning and one in Denver in the afternoon. Each one brings energy, vision and their own unique approach to work that makes our lives interesting, inspires us and teaches us to see the world in new ways.

Is it for everyone?

No. But for those who see what's possible--and love to build organizations to reach create the future they dream of--it's the ride of a lifetime.

DeLona Lang Bell is president of CMBell Company, a Walla Walla-based national communications, marketing and branding firm. For weekly business and marketing insights, visit the company's blog at


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