I am going a little off topic today....no gardening...although there exists many parallels to being successful in the garden and in business...
Today it occurred to me that no one is coming to save our small, independent garden center from this broader economic downturn that we have all been swept into. Maybe that's really good news....after all....when things were going great (particularly residential real estate in Central Fl) and most business owners benefited there was no one there asking to share in the bounty.
I opened the Wall St. Journal this morning to read the headline that the administration is considering a "broad" range of measures to "boost" economic growth. I think for the most part...business owners like me are saying we have heard this before...and I never saw any calvary coming down our driveway. I also think that most small business owners don't really expect or want a "calvary" like solution either. Although I have heard andedoctially of a few more business owners throwing in the towel as of late....on a whole I think most of us are a resilient and independent bunch. We chose to be business owners partly because we wanted to have more control over our own destinys. We want to see our way through this...in a large part because we intimately feel all those that depend on us to do so. Most small business owners' lives are much more entwined with their constituents. We know our employees and their families, we know our customers, we know our vendor partners, we know the people who we borrowed money from (most of the time our families)....in a very direct way all of these people depend on us for their well-being. I would submit that this is very different than answering to a board of directors or shareholders....largely because of relationships. From my vantage point, I see the difficulty in our employees lives when their spouse looses their job or they loose their healthcare. I feel the pain in disappointing a father, sister or brother-in-law because they invested in you and well....it may not work out so well. This is not a disconnected realty....you live it in every interaction each day.
So my partial remedy is this....Encouragement.
Specifically...make it a point to encourage a small business owner...particularly if you are a small business owner. I thnk a little positive encouragement can go a long way...if nothing more than validating that it is tough and a struggle right now. So pick a team to pull for...pick you local restaurant, hardware store (if you are lucky enough to still have one in your neighborhood), local bank...whomever you have a relationship with....and just encourage them to keep up the good fight. I think we are all now realizing that we are moving through the grief cycle and the denial stage is over...we are not going to awake and it will all be "normal" again....there are no simple, quick solutions...it's going to be a long, hard fight....we are at mile 13 of a 26 mile marathon...so encourage someone beside to keep putting one foot in front of another...we will all see the finish line soon enough!