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  • Ethan Blumenthal

7 tips from a small business owner: 7 things I've learned in 7 years of running my business

I am writing this blog as I sit in the middle seat of a Southwest airlines flight from Chicago to Phoenix. Tomorrow I will be running Knuckleball Comedy’s patented, fun and interactive corporate team building event for a company in Phoenix.

Yes 2023 was another year of good growth for Knuckleball Comedy, but just not quite good enough for an aisle seat.

Participants laugh during team building event

(Participants laugh during a fun Knuckleball Comedy team building event in Philadelphia for Array Architects)

Every time I am on my way to the airport to go and facilitate a team building, professional development workshop or keynote address, I genuinely can’t believe this is what I am doing in my life.

If you had told me 10 years ago this is what I’d be doing, I wouldn’t have had any questions because I wouldn’t have even understood what you were talking about. Improv comedy? Corporate team building events? Not things that ever entered my mind.

But here I am, over 7 years into this business and at this point it’s hard to imagine doing anything else.

Things continue to head in the right direction and 2023 saw highs in revenue, clients, events etc. Nothing happens as fast as I’d like, but the arrow continues to point up - and for that, I am lucky and thankful.

I am very excited about 2024. I hope it blows every other year out of the water. But before looking to the future, I think it’s a good idea to look to the past, about what I have learned so far and how it can help me and you in the future.

There are a million things I’ve learned running Knuckleball Comedy, but here are the 7 tips from a small business owner like me. 7 things that stand out right now in the 7 years I’ve been running my business.

1. Don’t be afraid of change

If you’ve been following the Knuckleball Comedy story, you’ll notice that we have rebranded. When I first began this venture in 2016, we only worked with kids. The logo and color scheme (red and yellow) I felt fit that.

Now, 7 years later, we are half a kids programming company, and half a corporate team building and professional development company. So I decided to rebrand to try to encompass both of those concepts. I hope you like it.

It was not easy to make this decision - I had been attached to the original logo and color, but running a business requires bold decisions. I thought it was time for a change, so I made it happen. I don’t know whether this will make a difference or ultimately be good or bad, but that’s every decision. If we knew, then it wouldn’t be a decision at all.

But I’d tell you what I tell myself, nothing is set in stone and you don’t know if you don’t try. So here I am, giving it a try. I am excited and hopeful for what this new branding brings.

2. Be thrilled when someone tells you a problem with your business

It’s never easy to hear someone tell you that something you spent a lot of time and effort on sucks. But, if you want your business to grow, then you should be thrilled to hear that response (hopefully in a nicer and more constructive way).

When someone tells me they don’t like my website, or they can’t believe I don’t use this sales technique or utilize that social media tool, I am genuinely so happy. If everyone said I am doing every possible thing in 100% the best possible way, that would mean my company has no growth left in it. How can we grow if we’re already perfect?

So if someone has some negative feedback, don’t be upset that they didn’t like what you have done. Be excited that you get to make a change that will hopefully be good for your business.

3. Perfection is the enemy of creativity

This phrase is something I say in my professional development and leadership workshops all of the time. And when I say it to the participants, it’s a good reminder for me as well.

Take a moment to think about how many things you wanted to begin; a blog, a newsletter, a youtube video, a new hobby etc. but you didn’t start it because you weren’t sure the very best way to do it.

So now here you are 3 years later, you still haven’t started that thing because you don’t know the perfect way to go about it. But imagine if you had started it 3 years ago, just by trial and error, imagine where you’d be?

It’s never too late. In three years from now you can say the same thing. Or you can start today and see how far you’ve come.

Whatever it is, don’t wait, start today.

4. Write down your goals for each day

I am constantly searching for the way to be the most productive possible. It’s not easy. I don’t think it’s easy for anyone, but especially for someone without a boss.

And every second I have an infinite amount of things I could be doing. So recently, I have put a notebook on my desk (a real one with paper from trees and everything) and at the beginning of each day, I take a few minutes to think about what I want to accomplish that day.

I write those things down. And that is what I focus on that day. One by one I cross things off the list as I do them. I know it sounds simple and “duh” but it helps me.

I get overwhelmed with all of my tasks, so simplifying, deciding what to prioritize, writing them down and then checking them off one by one helps me.

5. Take walks

In the middle of the day, I’ve been working for a while and I am losing focus. My options are: 1. Try to refocus and refocus and usually end up scrolling on my phone. Or 2. decide that it’s ok to take a break and go do something active and fulfilling.

In the most ideal world for me, that would be playing tennis. But tennis requires some planning. Taking a walk does not.

I just get up and go for a walk. Maybe listen to a podcast, maybe call my mom or maybe just stare off and think about what the Chicago Cubs’ lineup might be this year. It feels good to move around, it feels good to go outside and it feels good to give your mind a break. If I don’t go for a walk, I try an at-home workout.

Even if you have just 20 minutes, give it a try.

6. Be kind

I’ve written before about kindness but it always bears repeating. I’ve been doing this for 7 years. And by now, I get business from all sorts of places.

Some through our paid ads, some organically through our website, some through referrals from previous clients and others through referrals from just random people. Sometimes it’s a friend, or a family member or someone I met at a networking event or just some person I ran into on an elevator.

But ultimately I know they wouldn’t have referred me if I wasn’t kind. So be kind. You should be kind because it’s nice to be kind, but in the long run, being kind will be an asset to your business.

7. You are creative

When I run my fun, interactive team building workshops, the person booking me often questions whether their team is a good fit because they aren’t creative people. I always say the same thing, your employees are very creative.

You might only see them filling out spreadsheets or responding to mundane emails, but in the right circumstance, they are bursting with creativity.

That’s what I do, I bring out the creativity in people, both kids and leaders of Fortune 500 companies and everything in between.

You are creative, you just need the right opportunity.

If you’d like to learn more about bringing Knuckleball Comedy to your next team building event. Contact us HERE.

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