My Love Letter to Small Business Owners
You Didn't Fail. There was a Pandemic.
Small business owners are the most creative, passionate, innovative and persistent people you will ever have the pleasure to know. They make the most delicious goodies, sell the clothes that make you feel confident, help decorate your home and are the trusted source for your car repairs. They are your barber or spa day, the gym where you work out and the date night dinner and nightcap. Together, they make up our favorite destination districts and tourist draws. They are the fabric that makes our community unique. They are priceless.
Many of us fantasize about the “American Dream” but these folks chased it and made it come true. Now, it is crumbling beneath their feet. They didn’t do anything wrong, but they also probably can’t do anything to stop it, not for lack of trying. I have seen businesses pivot after pivot, creative approaches, new messaging, contactless pick up, delivery, private shopping, you name it. Small business owners are fighters, but this pandemic has brought many to their knees.
Small business owners are superheroes in my eyes. I was raised by a pair of them, so I know the DNA well. They can seemingly do it all. If they are faced with a problem, they simply set out to solve it. It doesn’t occur to them to ask for help. They usually don’t need it. Except for now. They put in obscene hours, they sponsor your little league team, they employ our friends and neighbors, they know our names when we come into the store, they make community. Now their personal assets are on the line.
The last five months have been traumatic for everyone. There is tremendous loss and stress all around us. Be sure to check in on your small business owners. They are probably not OK. And it is OK to not be OK. But remind them that if they decide to close up shop that they did not fail. Remind them that they created something really important, something that mattered and that made a difference in our community. Remind them that they can do it all again someday, or they can choose to follow a new calling. Whatever the future holds for our small business owners, we’re here and we’re ready. We have just the place.
Senior Vice President of Business Resources and Community Development at the Greater Des Moines Partnership