I admire people who own a business, particularly the ones who set up with a new idea.
Buying a business is a risk. Taking over from the previous owner is all very well, but there's the unknown of whether there is still life in the business and whether your drive and energy is enough to keep it going. And you'll want to keep it growing, too.
Probably a greater risk is starting from scratch with a new product or a service. The unknown must be daunting; will the public want what you have?
There's a payoff of being your own boss, of knowing where the profits are going; of knowing that you will reap the benefits of all the extra time and thought.
I always wanted a small business, but it's never happened. I justify it by saying I never saw the opportunity but the truth is I didn't look very hard. I was in a job I enjoyed and I just wasn't prepared to take the risk.
An old friend once said I would never get rich working for someone else and while that was never the aim, he was right.
So I was impressed and envious with the parade of entrants at the Chamber of Commerce 2012 Business Excellent Awards dinner in Blenheim on Friday night. Some of them have been in business a long time, such as Johnson's Barges, while Watery Mouth Cafe and event management company Any Eventuality have been going for less than two years.
Between those extremes were a window cleaning company, various engineers, a hair salon, a lodge, a bakery, early childhood centres and a holiday park.
These people have backed their idea, found premises, employed people, marketed themselves and appear to be doing very well.
All the winners deserve to be congratulated for winning the judges' eye, but every entrant deserves to be admired just for being in a position to enter.
It is small business operators who keep this region going, providing the services we rely on.
Good on you. Not just the ones in the 2012 awards - the lot of you.
- The Mirror