Oh, Small Business Owner, how I feel for you.
I understand the fear of knowing what tomorrow holds. Stay-at-home orders mean a lack of sales, dwindling business prospects, and evaporating savings accounts.
I understand the faces that pop into your mind at night: Your employees and the faces of their children; those children who are fed each week by the income brought in by your ideas, innovation and persistence. How will those good, good people pay their bills if you lay them off?
I know how you are sitting up, looking for a new market, or a new way to address the same market, to bring in some kind of revenue to bridge this ever-widening gap of income.
And let’s just acknowledge that, when they talk about how most Americans live paycheck to paycheck, the truth is that many American small businesses do, too. The income from this week pays for next week’s payroll…
I know how, even if you have a decent savings stacked away, or a line of credit, how quickly payroll and rent eats that up. $250,000 in the bank can become $250,000 in debt in a few short months for many small businesses. It’s nothing to lose the cost of an entire mortgage or two, with a few months of bad business.
You never thought you’d see 20 years of brutally hard work evaporate, seemingly overnight, right? I get it.
These are the times that small business owners live in a haze of caffeine, anxiety, and endlessly stretching their minds for a great idea that might save the day.
And dare I suggest that the idea that might save the day is this: You don’t need to save the day.
Run your financials; make projections; create plans and worst case scenarios and backup plans, and whatever you need to do to reconcile the crazy in your mind with the craziness surrounding you…and then take a walk.
Go breathe the air outside, feel the sunshine on your face, and hold your little boy’s hand as he picks up dandelion bouquets. Notice the things in your life that have nothing to do with work, and begin to cherish them in a new way.
If you are like I was, you have become so entrenched in running your business that somehow you became your business. Its success or failure equals your success or failure. And that’s not the truth.
Your business is an entity that you created, grew and gave life to. And just like all things, it has a beginning date, and an end date. Statistics say that most small business owners will outlive their business. Statistics also say that second businesses are often more profitable and better run than the first.
What if this is a turning point for you? What if this is the thing that makes you finally focus on what you’re supposed to be doing? What if it allows you to trim a department or make a change you’ve been knowing you should do, but couldn’t find the justification to do it? Or what if it’s time to stop this business, so you can embrace something new?
I have learned and grown a huge amount in the three years since I closed my small business. I didn’t plan it, and I didn’t expect it…but once I surrendered to a new course for my life, I felt a freedom I hadn’t felt in years. I was able to release the pressure and my own expectations, and look forward as a new chapter began to unfold.
And guess what? I like the new chapter!
My prayer for you, Small Business Owner, is this: That you trust God. That you seek Him out, and ask Him to show you the next step, and the next step, and the next step. And that you embrace that fact that He loves you, and He will give you the wisdom you need to endure this season, and whatever challenges or successes it includes.
While I’d love to tie this up with a neat little bow, the truth is that this season is really hard. Stand strong, breathe deep and press on into tomorrow, one day at a time, knowing you truly are not alone.
Photo: The staff of our small businesses, West Coast Imaging and Aspen Creek Photo, in 2016