Entrepreneur's message: A tiny business can be 'magic'

Entrepreneur Sharon Rowe has never worked after 5:30 p.m. and doesn't work on the weekends. Sound pretty good? Then you might want to read her new book, The Magic of Tiny Business: You Don't Have to Go Big to Make a Great Living.

Sharon says the book is about how you can make a mighty change with a very laser-focused business idea. Tiny, Sharon says, is mighty.

Sharon founded Eco-Bags Products Inc., the original reusable bag brand, in 1989 and has grown it into a multimillion-dollar business.

Doesn't sound so tiny? Tiny is about intention. It's a mindset. Sharon says tiny is a way that you approach your business so that it meets your personal, financial, and social impact goals.

For Sharon, it all started with a string shopping bag. She says she didn't start the company to sell bags. She started it to create a culture shift. She wanted to stop using single-use plastic bags and she knew other people did, too.

Today, Sharon makes dozens of different ECOBAGS and sells them internationally.

So how does she keep her sanity running such a big tiny business? Sharon says when things are really falling apart or they're just not happening for you, don't sit at your desk and freak out. Go for a walk.

She says she was in Montana and saw a sign that said "Don't think outside the box. Think outside." It's something Sharon does regularly. Walk outside. Get a glass of water. Chill out. Allow yourself to fail and learn from it.

She also separates "need to do" from "nice to do."

Her book includes a cartoon that illustrates this well. It shows a person in front of a computer screen, covered in sticky notes, surrounded by piles of paper. (Her son Julian Rowe, a cartoonist for the New Yorker, drew the cartoon.)

Sharon says we get these piles of paper and emails from people asking "Can you do this for me? Can you do that for me?" We're more inclined to say "yes" than "no," but Sharon says that to be thoughtful you should take a breath and decide what you need to do versus what's nice to do. Be in a position where you can say "wait a minute' or 'no.'

Practice saying no, she says.

The Magic of Tiny Business: You Don't Have to Go Big to Make a Great Living (Berrett-Koehler) by Sharon Rowe; May 8, 2018.