My wife and I own a small mom and pop business in our community.
We’ve had it for a little over ten years.
In that time it has completely changed our understanding of the role of small business – I mean REALLY small business – plays in our economy.
We employ eleven people. Three of those are full time. We have over ten thousand customers in our database and thrive on repeat business and word of mouth.
Our tiny business serves a not-so-tiny number of people.
And it is one of the most gratifying things Judy and I have ever done.
Sure, it has its ups and downs.
The ups include being an integral part of our community and provide a product that numerous families depend on everyday. (Our business is a consignment shop for children’s and misses clothing).
Another up is the team we’ve assembled. Quite literally the best team I’ve ever worked with in business.
The downs include the 24/7 always-on-your-mind nature of owning a small family business. The occasional customer ‘situation’ that can suck the ever loving life out of you. And managing daily cash flow – where most small businesses can falter.
Still, this gig is a wonderful part of our family and our community.
We are a family business.
According to Forbes Magazine, family businesses account for over half of our overall GDP. There are 28 Million such small businesses in the US. Almost 80% of those are non-employer businesses. That means they, in essence, created their own jobs. In my mind, that is a significant contribution to a community.
While the failure rate in the first few years is high, these businesses go on to provide almost 2/3 of the job growth.
I remember when Judy and I started our business ten years ago, we had one part-time employee, quite a bit of stress and many mistakes. But when we opened the doors our mindset was this.
Let’s love the people, provide good service, carry a good product, and trust that these things will be sufficient to add value to our community. We also prayed a lot.
There was no separating business and family. There still isn’t. Much to the chagrin of our five children.
Yet through the business, we feel we have extended our family considerably. Far from trying to separate the two, family and business have come together is ways we never expected.
I’m going to write more about family business in the coming weeks. I would love to hear your stories about experiences owning or supporting a family business. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org