Most Americans have been quarantined for well over a month this year, and understandably it's been a tough ride for some financially and mentally. Also not surprisingly, there are those anxiously, and in few cases vocally, wanting businesses that have also been shuttered to re-open. Much of our lives revolves around commerce, and the shutdown has has serious ramifications for business owners of all sizes, especially small business owners who lack the same resources that larger businesses have, such as large cash reserves, or the ability to secure large loans to keep employees on board. However, could it be that small businesses actually have something going for them that big businesses do not?
First, if you are a small business owner, chances are, you are no stranger to thin margins, living on a tight budget, and making the best of a bad situation. Personally, I can't remember a time where money wasn't an issue; not in the sense that I can't pay my bills, but rather that finances are always considered when making decisions. This attribute makes me, a small family business with several contractors, in a good position when things go totally haywire. I've been here before, as many small business owners have. Remember when you launched that product you'd worked so hard on? Remember expecting it to blow up, only to enter the market with barely a notice? Remember how you initially wanted to quit, and then started to look into ways to make sales, rather than expecting them to just show up for you? That's the small business mentality, and that's what makes us uniquely prepared for tough situations.
When businesses do start to open, don't think for a second that things are going to just snap back into place. Guess what...they don't need to, we are adaptable. Adaptation is another trait for small business owners. Before I became a full time photographer, I worked for several large companies, in fairly replaceable roles. I was comfortable for a long time, however the calling to pursue photography full time got increasingly loud. got loud enough that eventually I had to acknowledge it, and I transitioned from my desk job, to a job as a freelance photographer. Things weren't easy, but I adapted; and that transition was only the beginning. I've been a fashion photographer, a real estate photographer, a portrait photographer, and I now use my photographs to design prints for fashion. Was that my intended path? No. But here's the thing, as the market changes, as we learn more, and as our skills develop and change, we change. That's why I'm confident that many of my entrepreneur friends will weather this storm, as they have likely weathered their personal storms. We are no stranger to adaptation.
I've noticed a lot of people supporting local businesses recently; they see the threat to the places they love, and want to patronize them to make sure they stick around. I personally have concern about a few of my contractors and local businesses. I cannot operate the same way without them, and so, even in a selfish way, I care about them surviving. It's more important now than ever that we spend our money in a specific way; a way that supports our needs, but also supports the businesses we love. Money is a powerful tool, and where we allocate it can be more than just a transaction, it can be a way to support the brands we love, the methods of production we support, and the products we value most. Entrepreneurs can thrive in that space. We are people,our pictures on on our websites. When people buy from us, they support our families. People want to help others, so now is a great time to remember to show people the reality of your business. Be real, show people who you are, and provide them with goods and services they love, and they will reward you.
I hope that all that read this are doing well. I hope that what was confusing and scary in the beginning, has become manageable. No one was ready for this, but I hope if you are small business owner, some of these thoughts ring true, and if you are not, I hope you will support a small business owner you love, so that we can continue to work to make your lives a little bit fuller.