I guess I was, in a way, destined to become an entrepreneur. Or at the very least, I set my sights on working for a small, locally-0wned company. Because when I look back, that's all I've ever done. Here's a quick overview of my job history (excluding a smattering of part-time summer jobs and student-worker stints in college):
As a junior high student, I had a paper route delivering my hometown's weekly paper. I think I made about $15/month--but it was money I earned on my own, and that felt great. I still have fond memories of waking up before sunrise, donning my walkman, and trudging through the neighborhood, placing papers on doorsteps or, in wet or snowy weather, inside storm doors.
In high school I worked for a local commercial cleaning company, scrubbing and scouring offices, corporate bathrooms, and and assortment of bank lobbies. I definitely learned to appreciate those who harbor behind-the-scenes type-jobs.
After college I landed a job as a customer service rep at a family-owned music store. I was there for four years and learned a ton about treating customers with respect and how to work as part of a team. In a way, it was this job that allowed me to hone my writing skills in the commercial world as I created flyers, brochures, and even wrote an article for a music trade magazine.
Although these jobs required totally different skills, they all have one thing in common: not one of these companies is owned by a big-time corporation. They're all local products of their respective communities, and are all very in touch with the folks they deal with on a daily basis. I took many experiences away from each job, but the singular message I've kept in mind is that through hard work and treating people well, a small business can indeed be successful.
So here I am, many (exact number undisclosed :) ) years later, running my own business. And after having this opportunity, it's hard to imagine doing things any other way. Plus I have total respect for other small business owners. I try to patronize them whenever possible.
How about you? What types of small business to you support?