Yesterday, I was chatting with Mom about my business as I do several times a week. I was describing my new customers, and how I went about getting them. After hearing me out, she responded, “You know Julie, you’re scrappy.” She went on, “We’re a scrappy family. We all work hard and never think that anyone is going to hand us anything. This is why you’re so busy.”
She’s right. I’m always afraid that my business is going to fail, so I do whatever I need to do to make it succeed. I definitely take on jobs that others might not want, and my eyes are always open for a new opportunity. It’s engrained in me. I guess when you come from a long line of scrappers, it just comes naturally.
This conversation got me thinking about scrappiness. What does it really mean? So, I looked it up. First, scrappiness is defined as made up of odds and ends, disconnected. It also means having a fighting spirit, a desire to compete. Both definitions are quite applicable to small business ownership.
Running a business is scrappy by nature. You’re always focused on odds and ends. It’s nothing like having a regular job with an employer, a set description of duties, a schedule, and a steady paycheck. It’s unpredictable. Business owners thrive on the unknown and the inherent chaos that goes hand-in-hand with not having the security and structure of a “real job”.
Beyond that, having a business absolutely requires you to be flexible enough to take work from wherever it may come. Being too discriminating about what you’ll do or who you’ll work with is a surefire way to fail. Scrappy business owners jump on opportunities and are willing to do something new or shift direction if it means more money or a chance to get ahead. They’re not rigid, nor do they sit and wait for things to be handed to them. They go out and get it themselves.
This begs the question – Can scrappiness be learned? Or, is it something you either have or don’t? And, I don’t have a good answer for this one. Certainly, having role models of scrappy family members who have the brashness to do what they want and think for themselves helps nurture this useful trait. But, I think scrappiness can be developed overnight if someone is placed in a sink or swim predicament. Although, some individuals who, even when placed in a dire situation, will never develop this self-preserving trait and will steadfastly stay complacent even when it jeopardizes their quality of life.
This business owner would like to thank her family for giving her the tenacity, sense of humor, and drive to be scrappy. I haven’t changed much from the 16 year old girl who worked her ass off and carefully strategized to buy her own car, insurance, and gas so that she could get some independence. I still have the same fighting spirit and desire to work hard 25 years later, and I imagine I always will.