Having just celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. Day, one is reminded just how high was the mountain he climbed. It takes an amazing individual to not only have the vision to see a better world and be willing to make the sacrifices necessary to get there, but also to inspire enough people who would be willing to go along on that arduous journey.
In that sense, King was like many entrepreneurs that I know.
Now don’t get me wrong, of course I am not saying that anything we do is of the magnitude or importance of what he did, but what I am saying is that seeing something other do not see, and then enrolling people in that vision, is no small feat – whether you are changing the world or just changing your world.
King did not do it alone, and neither can you. As I see it, here are the key teammates any small business must have if it is to get to the mountaintop.
I wrote my master’s thesis on progressive social movements. How do people change things for the better – be it ending slavery or promoting voting rights or ending gun violence?
It all starts with an individual. And so does a successful business.
Martin Luther King III's home is decorated with family portraits showing him and his father, Martin Luther King, Jr. on Jan. 9. 2020. As the nation remembers Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday on Jan. 15, his son talked about the importance of keeping his legacy alive. At a time when the country still struggles with racism and white supremacy, King III continues to build on his father's dream and the fight for equality. (Photo: Lynsey Weatherspoon, for USA TODAY)
Every business you see while driving down the road began as one person’s vision. The entrepreneur must come up with the idea, a plan to execute on that idea, and the ability to excite others about that idea. It is no small thing, even if it is going to be a small business.
Believing in the vision and in yourself, and being willing to risk money, reputation, time, family and community standing in order to see it through, requires guts, determination, hard work, vision, enthusiasm, and stick-to-it-iveness.
Not easy. No little thing.
Every successful movement – whether it is to create a business or launch a social movement or win a political campaign – has to have someone close to the leader who believes in and supports him or her.
King had Coretta Scott King.
In supporting her husband and the cause, enduring death threats and bombings in her own home, and striking, sitting in, marching and speaking, Coretta Scott King became an integral part of the Civil Rights Movement.
Indeed, as she once remarked, she was married to Martin yes, but she was also “married to the movement.” As she said in her posthumous memoir, “My Life, My Love, My Legacy,” written by journalist Barbara Reynolds, “I believe Martin was chosen, I believe I was chosen, and I say to the kids, this family was chosen as well.”
And when King was killed, it was Coretta Scott King who carried on his legacy and work and eventually created the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change.
In the case of a business, the partner could be a spouse or friend or child or, yes, a partner. Whoever and whatever, a close ally is required if the venture is to succeed.
Finally, and no less importantly, are the people who do the daily grind. In a business, that means people who do the work. And in a social movement, that means people who do the work.
Change is hard. No one has it easy. So kudos to all the leaders and visionaries and their partners and teammates out there who make it happen.
You prove that while difficult, change is possible.
Steve Strauss is an attorney, popular speaker and the best-selling author of 17 books, including “The Small Business Bible.” You can learn more about Steve at MrAllBiz.com, get more tips at his site TheSelfEmployed, and connect with him on Twitter @SteveStrauss and on Facebook at TheSelfEmployed.
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