Jennifer Faulkner, owner, Long Jacket Communications, Tiny Travellers Baby Equipment Rentals
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Jennifer Faulkner has spent the past 15 in marketing and communications, shepherding projects from the early seeds of an idea through to implementation: branding, print, television and radio campaigns, website development, online communications, catalogues, direct mail and public relations. As an aunt with lots of friends in far-flung places, she also owns Tiny Travellers, the only full-service baby equipment rental business serving Halifax and the surrounding area.
“A person’s a person, no matter how small” – Dr. Suess.
“A business is a business, no matter how small” – Me
I never intended to own two businesses. I never thought of myself as an entrepreneur. When I was younger and naively thought my destiny was to ‘save the world’, business to me meant spreadsheets and price wars and pushy salespeople. What I came to discover was that owning my own small business meant freedom. Freedom is my bottom line. It’s how I gauge my success and I define that success on my own terms, not by comparing myself to other people, other businesses, or by what Kevin O’Leary says. It sounds like a cliché, I know. Companies selling franchises say it a lot, “Experience the freedom of being your own boss!” But many people who actually own a business may even feel their experience is the exact opposite – that they don’t own a business, their business owns them and where’s the freedom in that?
Before I go any further I want you to know I’m not rich. Not even close. I would get laughed off the Dragons’ Den stage. But I feel very successful. I feel successful because I have the freedom to do the kind of work I love and I get paid for it. I can make my own decisions about the projects I work on, the type of people I work with, and how I deal with clients. I decide if and when I’m going to work nights and weekends. I have a work/life balance that gives me great happiness and I sleep soundly (well, most nights). That doesn’t mean I am able to control everything that happens with my businesses, but as much as I am able to influence, I do.
Want to know the secret to my success? I keep things small. I’m not interested in exit strategies, being bought out, or franchising. I’m not interested in taking on a partner, hiring employees, or renting office space. Let me be clear that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with any of those things, they’re just not for me. It would change the way I do business, the way I live my life, and it could jeopardize the freedom I so jealously guard.
You might be imagining that I’m some sort of underachiever or that I’m afraid of taking risks. I’m not. I own two profitable businesses; that’s not for the lazy or faint of heart. I work hard to ensure a consistent quality of service and that the businesses remain profitable. I also work hard to ensure I continue to enjoy doing what I do. I look for and welcome new opportunities to grow but I am very conscious to choose opportunities that will enrich my life and my businesses, not overwhelm them.
I feel like we are bombarded with messages about what a business should be and what it should be doing, and this expectation may hold people back from starting their own thing. If you have a good idea, no matter how small, it could make for a great business, no matter how small. Run it the way that makes sense for the kind of life you want. There’s no shame in owning a small business, it’s just a shame when a business owns you.