The Exclusive World of the Inclusive Small Business Community

by Lauren Schneidewind on February 19, 2016

A great deal of time and effort goes into deciding whether or not to run your own business. I thought I planned for everything, even knowing that I was planning for the unexpected. I love that fact that I am my own boss. I get to come in and go as I please. However, this also means I am on the clock 24 hours a day, but it is nice to be in charge of my daily activities (even if I am now working for a work-a-holic, myself). I was prepared to work hard, have cash flow concerns, and be prepared for the tough business decisions, but I was not aware of the community of fellow business owners that I was joining.

For the sake of argument, lets say my career started in college. I had always loved science since I was a little kid, but never really had an outlet until I got to college, and I suppose I didn’t know what to expect. (I thought I was going to the number one party school in the county at the time). I was a female in a technical discipline before it was cool to be a “female in Tech.” I started off being one of three females (out of nearly 170) taking the computer science route back in 2001. (I am glad a lot has changed since then). I can remember my teachers at the beginning of each semester stating; at least 50% of you will fail out of this class. This story held true and actually only got worse with about 60% of peers failing the chemistry classes. This creates one hell of a competitive environment. Students are being pitted against each other knowing that the curve is based on half of us failing. Even as my career continued I seemed to always find myself fighting to survive. I felt a bit like a lone wolf that was searching for a pack that wouldn’t throw me under the bus, if that meant they would get to take their next career step. Spring forward more than a decade and I am still continuing my search for my ideal pack. I had no idea that leaving the safety in numbers of corporate American and going it essentially alone, starting my own business that I would find one of the most amazing and inclusive communities out there. That’s right, I love the inclusive environment of being a business owner rather than the exclusivity of whatever is hot right now. Where people are fighting to be cooler than the next person and having to one up one another all of the time. I have spent enough time there, and it is just not for me.

Since embarking on LD Studios about two years ago, I have been introduced to such an amazing community here in Atlanta. I have joined a global business owners group: Entrepreneurs’ Organization that puts you in groups with your peers. I go to events around the city and everyone says hello. I used to feel so uncomfortable going to networking events through corporate America, but now going to events in the small business circuit, it’s like seeing friends that I just don’t know yet. I suppose once you take the risk to become a business owner, you have earned your spot in this inclusive environment.

I have been completely pleasantly surprised by how genuinely nice other business owners are. Everyone wants everyone to be doing well. Success seems to be contagious here. I have never had so many people go out of their way to try to connect me with others and find mutual business success. I love being in an environment where others want you to succeed and supports you where they can. This type of mentality in contagious, I have always loved helping out my neighbor rather than having to keep my ideas close to my hip because everyone is viewed as competition or a threat. I am pleased to say, that after more than 15 years of searching, I feel like I have finally found a pack that I truly belong in, where I can grow and thrive along with my peers.

Have you found your pack? Where do you find your calling? I would love to start a conversation.

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