Small business biographies: #what #not #to #do

A cat inside a cardboard box.

Outside the box? I don’t think so.

It’s Small Business Saturday on, er, Saturday. We’ve had Black Friday and Cyber Monday so why not collect the set?

This one’s a bit different: it is, according to their website, “a grassroots, non-commercial campaign”. Well, yeees… it was set up by American Express. So it’s still all about buying stuff.

Whatever the case, I can’t argue with the “shop local” message.  After all, if you’re going to buy stuff it’s nicer to buy it from small businesses and keep people like me afloat.

But it’s made me think about what being a small business is. I’d rather call myself self-employed than an entrepreneur, but I think I’m in a minority. Being an entrepreneur is just so fashionable these days.

There’s a culture (or should that be “cult”?) around small businesses that makes it hard sometimes to keep a straight face. What would some people have left to say if they couldn’t use the word “mindset”?  And then there are those Twitter biographies that try to prove just how successful you are and how successful you can make everyone else.

If there’s anything in your own bio that suggests you are self-employed or freelance, you are guaranteed to get follow spam (Twitterspeak for people who follow you just to get your attention). My policy on not following back is based on the appearance of the following words:  entrepreneur, startup, keynote, leader, success, goals. Or more than two hashtags.

I especially hate the ones that go: #trendyjobfunction #trendyjobfunction #trendyjobfunction #dad #mum #cake.

It’s a no, too, to anyone who is passionate about helping me grow my business, work smart or leverage my time.

There are interesting variations, like the person who used “outside the box” and “aggressive” together (an interesting image), or the one who promised “RESULTS-DRIVEN SOLUTIONS” (their capitals).

Yes, there are plenty of crimes against English in this field: in fact, I sometimes think that small-business-speak is actually worse than corporate-business-speak.

But now that I’m signed up to a few business networking groups, I’m starting to think that speaker biographies are even worse than those on social  media. The runner-up this year included the claim that the person has “created 16 millionaires to date” (not, presumably, themselves). The winner did better than that: in only 30 words they managed to get in “passionately”, “boundary-pushing”, “bespoke”, “targeted traffic strategies” and “to effectively leverage the internet”.

Repeat after me: nobody cares whether I am “successful”: my customers are happy.  Nobody cares whether I am a thought leader: I am good at what I do. Nobody cares whether I am an entrepreneur: I run a small business. That’s it.


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