Recently, a local small business* abruptly went out of business. They had been a rising star in the Dayton business community for the past ten years. They carved an industry out of revolutionary idea, employed over 30 people a year at their heyday, enabled folks to support the troops and gave rise to a number of ideas and competitors.
The local newspaper, Dayton Daily News wrote glowing reviews about them and their founders, revering them as courageous business leaders who had the ambition, passion and drive to revitalize the local economy, blah, blah, blah.
Ten years and millions of dollars in tax revenues and payroll later, they are the villains of Capitalism. They went out of business, leaving their customers high and dry, holding onto worthless products and services.
How quickly the media turns on you.
On the one hand, small business is the savior for this recession. It is the small business man and woman who is passionate about their communities, about the people in it. The media forgets that building a small business takes real money that comes from personal savings, credit card debt, personal guarantees and second-mortgages in order to fund the dreams of making an idea work. The media forgets that usually the first employee to take a pay cut when things get rocky is the CEO and others who have invested more than their fair share of sweat and worry. The media forgets about a lot of things that small business owners will never share.
On the other hand, when they go out of business due to economic hardship — including this recession — they are irresponsible, greedy, selfish villains who are screwing over their customers.
In truth, they are neither hero nor villain. Creating a small business is a dream that somebody clawed their way to making who couldn’t hear the word “can’t.” In the process, they create jobs and tax revenue for their community.
It amazes this puppy to see how the media will side with ex-employees when large corporations announce 5,000 job cuts, fretting over how they will find new jobs. But, when a small business goes belly-up, they side with the customers, ripping the small business as a villain. A small business still has displaced employees; do they not matter? With a disloyal cheering section like that, why would any small businessperson talk with the local newspaper or television station?
If small business is truly the savior in this recession, treat them more with kindness and understanding. When small business hires people and sells to customers, they are hiring friends and family, not just nameless, faceless employees. And their customers become their friends.
It is with a heavy heart and torn soul that a small business decides to cease. It is not only a business closing; it is a dream being torn apart.
*I’m not going to disclose the business name because there are too many close friends associated with it, but if you live in Dayton and have been paying attention, you’ll get it. If not, it applies universally to any small business in your town.