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New Business in a Small Town (This article is a Rising Star Winner!)
Open For Business
Opening a new business in general is not an easy task, but starting it in this economy – that’s even harder.
A friend of mine decided to stand up for the challenge. It has been his dream for a long time to put his life into his own hands. A location downtown looked so appealing; little shops, and restaurants, friendly vibe on the streets… Bankers so inviting, local newspapers sweet talking you - trying to grab you for advertisements, radio keeps calling with great air offers… And everybody wishes you so well… Before you started.
And then you are finally open for business. Newspapers still keep visiting, but there is more – you have to join all of the possible organizations in town. Especially if you are located on main street. If you don’t join – forget about doing ANY business! Members will only stop by places, with memberships too. And you definitely have to start shopping on Main Street, or other business owners won’t come to you either. Too expensive for you – oh well, that’s just your problem. If they don’t come – who will? There is no proper parking, more parking meters then you can count, and if, God forbid, the weather is unpleasant – you will be sitting and enjoying your brand new business all by yourself.
And if anybody stops by – they will kill you with questions and advice. Funny, since it doesn't seem like they are business owners themselves, but they know it all, and they can advise you, well, just about anything! Really, you don’t even have to think for yourself – just listen and do what they say. Everyone is looking for that perfect place to eat and shop – perfect for themselves, and their criteria. You should up-size and downsize at the same time, you should sell this, and not that, you should advertise here and not there, and you should definitely purchase this and not that equipment. This one is my personal favorite - what you should or just HAVE to purchase. How can you even say something like that to a new business owner? Please, think twice, aren't we all on a budget these days???
And don’t forget about all of the charities that will make sure to knock to your door daily! Of course it would be amazing, if you can help others, but… Can you afford to support anything or anybody, when you need a support yourself?
After you have been around for a few weeks, maybe months, you will get a daily question, how your business is doing. And the answer “good” (you don’t want to complain, and be negative, even if it’s slow), is definitely never enough. After you make an excuse, or try to change the subject, there will be questions: “Do you really think you can make it selling your bagels-T-shirts-shoes?” “How much do you have to sell to make it?” And finally: ”How much are you making?”
One day you decide – I need to take a week off; I have been here 6-7 days a week, working at home, dealing with all of the stress.... You think: "it is a slower season, I will close for a week, since I am not making much money anyway. I will save on bills (heat, electricity etc.), and maybe avoid going insane, and paying doctor’s bills in the future. I will re-energize before the busy season" (which by the way everyone loves to talk about so much - like summer is the only thing that keeps all of us alive, and we will just all get rich over those three months – in, let's not forget, not really a seasonal town. Well, I think it is safe to say that, since I don’t see the ocean or the Rocky Mountains, do you??). Anyway, closing IS A CRIME. How dare you make a decision like this? The eight people that wanted to come on Wednesday and other ten on Thursday, when you’re closed, will definitely make sure to tell everyone how irresponsible you are! You knew what you were doing by opening your own venture! You should be here ALL THE TIME. I agree, but since you all claim, the area is so seasonal, it should be normal to see businesses closed to regroup during the off season…
I know, I know - this all sounds quite bitter, and not very much inviting to open something of your own. Unfortunately... The economy is tough, but this should not be an excuse to be so absolutely negative and discouraging towards new small businesses. Everyday customers can make you smile or make your life a living hell. Support would be truly appreciated, don’t you want to see your town grow and shine? To be an attractive place to live and visit? Remember, the way you behave when you are out can really affect somebody’s life, as well as the well- being of your hometown.
My friend, a rookie business owner, I have mentioned at the beginning of this little story, is alright. He is aware of many obstacles he will meet on his way of getting his business on the right track.
However, maybe we all should take a short minute to think about how we can make a life of small business owners a little easier, it is really though out there!
© 2012 Monis Mas. All rights reserved.
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