Scholarship Finalist: Christian Oliveira

An undertaking with lasting impact

Owning a small business is a group undertaking. No matter what the business is, it becomes a family endeavor to keep it up and running. For my family, this has been especially true. My parents opened a small trucking company called Luma Transportation in 2003 and have worked hard for the past decade to make sure it provides for our family. In addition to running a successful business, my parents’ dedication taught me valuable lessons that helped shape me into the young man I am today. Looking back, I realize that small business ownership had a greater impact on my development as an individual than any other factor in my life.

When my parents first started our business, they worked hard each and every day to keep it afloat. My mother, who had been a stay-at-home mom since shortly after I was born, went back to work. After getting my sister and I up for school, she would join my dad at our small office building and work all day. In the afternoon, she’d pick us up from school and complete her motherly duties at home. Meanwhile, my dad would remain at the office working late into the night, often coming home to a meal he helped put on the table that had long gone cold. It was from those long early days in the business that my parents began to instill in me the priceless value of hard work.

I learned that running a business is much like running a marathon; you can’t simply state that you are running a marathon and expect it to complete it with ease. It takes blood, sweat and tears to train for that marathon. It requires your devotion day in and day out just so you can finish the race. In reality, running a marathon doesn’t quite do business ownership justice, though, as a marathon is a one-time event. Running a business is a daily marathon, and it requires hard work for as long as the business is open.

My parents weren’t content to simply let me observe the values of hard work, though. They made sure that I experienced them firsthand, whether it be through cleaning the office at 10 years old or working as a billing clerk at 18. The conscious effort my parents put into instilling the value of hard work in me has helped shape me in all aspects of my life, be it at school, in volunteer efforts or even recreational tasks. I have tried to put the same amount of effort into each part of my life that my parents have into their business because a task can only be completed through hard work.

Running hand-in-hand with hard work, I have also learned the value of perseverance. There have been times when our family’s business has struggled. For some people, it would have been easier to simply shut the doors and move on to something else than to persevere through the tough times. However, my parents kept running the race. In times of struggle, those late nights became even later nights or nights spent away from home while visiting a customer. Income wasn’t always constant, and there were times when my dad didn’t take a salary just so that the business could stay afloat. Those struggles taught me that even when hard work seems to be in vain, it is always most honorable to stick with the task ahead. No matter how tough a situation gets, perseverance pays off. It’s a valuable lesson to learn at any stage of life, and at 18 years old, I shall carry it with me for the rest of my life.

Being a part of my family’s small business has taught me many valuable lessons, but the greatest of these is humility. For the past decade, I’ve observed many people walk in and out of my family’s life. Each person has a different story, and when they come to our business, we become a part of their story, and they become a part of ours. The employee doesn’t have a job without the small business, and the small business doesn’t have a leg to stand on without the employees. It is in this relationship that I have learned why humility is important.

Business is about more than making money. For my parents, the motivation to be self-employed was based upon their desire to provide for their family. Most other small business owners share those same motivations. Once they go into business, though, that family expands. Everyone who works to keep the business afloat becomes part of one giant family. I’ve learned that in that family, we’re all equals. We each play different roles, but in the end, we all need each other. It is through the installment of those family values that I have learned what it means to have humility. Simply put, life, much like business ownership, becomes much easier when one can be humble and loving when interacting with others. This value drives all of my interactions in all aspects of life, be it in business, school or my social life.

Needless to say, the experience of walking with my parents through small business ownership has helped shape me into the individual I am today. Hard work, perseverance and humility are all values my parents worked hard to instill in me throughout the last decade. Without these values, my opportunity to make a life for myself and positively impact the world would be much smaller. Simply put, small business ownership has made me into the young man I am today, and for that I am eternally thankful.

This essay was written by Christian Oliveira, one of 10 finalists for the Small Business Success Student Scholarship Program. Christian and the other finalists were selected from more than 500 applications reviewed by the Scholarship Committee. Three of the finalists will win a $1,500 scholarship to be used toward furthering their education. To vote for Christian or any of the other finalists, visit the Small Business Success Student Scholarship voting app on Facebook.

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