Growing up in a small town in the mid-west, thinking ‘small’ is a way of life. It’s not a ‘bad’ thing that people think that way, it’s just the way it is. People who choose to live in places like that actually want to live simple lives. They enjoy living in small communities where everyone knows each other, there are no surprises, and no stress. Bottom line is…it’s ‘safe’ .

There are many communities where groups of similar-minded people seem to find each other. Recently I attended a networking event where local business people gather on a monthly basis in a social setting. Because I’ve been a business owner in the community for many years, I’ve known a lot of the attendees for quite some time. I’m familiar with their history in the community, and I consider many of them my friends.

This event, however, was different this time…for me.  You see, within the past year, I joined a Mastermind group and have attended quite a few seminars and workshops (all outside the community). I have read a lot of books, watched webinars and attended classes. I’ve become, I guess you could say, ‘addicted’ to learning and becoming a better business owner. My eyes have been opened up to a whole new world of opportunities, and a whole new set of people…all ‘different-thinking’ from many of the people I’ve known who were at this particular networking event.

As I got in my car, and drove home, I felt, well…a little sad. I heard people talk about their financial struggles and the difficulties they’re having in their businesses. I heard many of the same conversations that I hear every month.  Don’t get me wrong, I used to be just like them. On this night, I finally realized that they all still think ‘small’. They don’t talk about new opportunities, or growing their businesses. They seem content right where they are, yet they’re unhappy. They’re afraid to go ‘outside their comfort zone’ and try something new, and they’re not willing to invest in educating themselves…just like I used to be…

A few days later, I attended a class filled with Entrepreneurs. Most have been in business for quite a few years. Sadly, I heard the same stories…all strangely similar to mine…a common story among entrepreneurs…

We all get into business because we are passionate about what we do…passionate about the product or service we provide. We work our tails off, often until the wee hours of the morning, we work on weekends, and never take time for ourselves as we grow our businesses. From the outside looking in, we are successful, and surely we must make a lot of money! I started my business to ‘save the world’…to provide an amazing product at a rock bottom price, sometimes even free! I’ve been accused of being ‘all about the money’, by employees and clients.  The funny thing about that is, if I wasn’t all about the money, my staff wouldn’t have a paycheck and my clients would be going someplace else. The sad truth is, behind the scenes of more entrepreneurs than you can imagine, we struggle to pay our bills, and oftentimes live in the back rooms of our businesses, just so we can keep the doors open.

What has changed for me?  I made the difficult choice to start investing in myself. I’ve been investing money that I can’t really afford to spend, along with investing a whole lot of time that I can’t afford to waste, in bettering myself. I’m learning as much as I can, and hanging around people who are more successful, and smarter, than I.

Honestly, I really couldn’t afford to join the Mastermind group, and some of the seminars I’ve attended have been way outside my budget, but the difference it has made in me, my well-being, and my vision, is priceless.

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