I let myself get mentally sucked into a social media post the other day. So mad at myself for doing that. I know better. I wasn’t going to write about it, because, well, it gets me anxious and sad. And I don’t like to write about things that get me anxious and sad, however….I feel called to for some reason. So…I guess I will be anxious and sad, and then I will process it and move on.
There are millions of small business owners in America. Millions. Anyone can be one. Yes, anyone.
I grew up poor. When I say poor, I mean, P.O.O.R. I lived with several family members over the course of my childhood, attended over 14 different schools in my thirteen years of schooling, in different counties and states. I had a baby very, very young. I was not ever on welfare, though I don’t oppose to those getting help when NEEDED-then getting off it. My parents didn’t give me money or assistance (they didn’t have it to give). My college wasn’t paid for (it STILL isn’t..can you say still paying student loans?). I didn’t win the lotto. A rich uncle didn’t die and give me money, or a house.
I. Worked. Hard.
I worked my way up from $4/hr folding Levi jeans to a corporate executive in a fortune 500 company…while raising my two children and getting my college degree (since then I popped out a couple more kiddos and finally got that damn degree…. over a ten-year period).
In 2006 I decided to open a business. A children’s business that I believed in. I started in a portable at my church and over the course of almost six years have grown and expanded it to where we now host multiple locations and work with thousands of children with a pretty amazing staff.
I have spent all of my retirement, all of my savings and have been on the brink of bankruptcy… twice.
I didn’t pay myself for the first four years. I just kept putting money into the business… to keep the doors open. To pay the wonderful employees that depended on me.
What saddens me, are thoughts expressed by others…not just via the social media instance…but that I have heard and seen in general… that business owners are greedy and selfish. That money is the driving force- and considered almost evil. That owners don’t give enough. That owners shouldn’t be profitable.
It makes my stomach ache and literally breaks my heart.
I have given everything I have to my business, and then some. I still do, including to the community through free programs and scholarships. I give more than I make.
Businesses close so often these days, it tears my heart out. I know what that person did to get to the point of closing. I know the blood, sweat, tears, lost retirement and even lost homes it took before having to close the doors. I do. And it hurts me to see it. It should hurt all of us.
Please know, I am generalizing here and I do realize there are some greedy, dishonest people in this world (whether a business owner or not) and that not everyone feels this way about business owners.
I also realize not all businesses have had my same difficult route. Some successful businesses have been handed down over generations. Or someone opened a business and right away it blew up into an amazing, profitable giant. What do I say for them? Kuddos.
I also realize not all business owners have the same beliefs as myself. That perhaps some of them don’t give back as much or are solely focused on keeping the doors open as best as they can. What do I say for them? That is their choice. It’s their business.
Here is my advice; before assuming a business owner is greedy, or that a business is making financial decisions based on greed or lust for money- OPEN YOUR OWN BUSINESS. Open a business and see what it takes to keep the doors open…hell what it takes just to get them open. If I was able to do it, you can too. Then…then you will know. Owning a business is hard.
We are all consumers and can choose where to spend our money. If you truly, absolutely, feel that a business is run by a greedy, money lusting, unfair owner, spend your money elsewhere. That’s what I do.
Now..I will release this ugly, sad feeling, look forward to my glass of wine and send good thoughts to all the business owners in America…..as well as the future ones.