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The True Meaning of Small Business

Updated: Aug 30, 2021

We work with small businesses every day.

Small businesses are wonderful additions to every town. They add character and charm, and are an integral part of the local economy.

I never paid much attention to small businesses when I was younger. I had dreams of moving to New York City. I always wanted to be a writer.

Well, okay. First I wanted to be a Barker’s Beauty on The Price is Right.

But, after that, I wanted to be a writer. More specifically, I wanted to be a journalist.

Someone told me that meant I needed to go to Carleton University to study Journalism, so that’s what I did.

Only a few problems here:

- I hated politics. (not great when studying Journalism in Ottawa…)

- I thought newspapers were boring.

- Positions at newspapers were being cut left and right; the world seemed to be moving in a different direction and I had no plans for moving with it.

Not exactly a good recipe for success as a prospective journalist. Needless to say, I didn’t make it to second year, nor did I want to.

I floundered for years wondering what I would do. Who am I, if I’m not a journalist like I had always (naively!) imagined? What was next?

I spent too much time just wishing things were different, that I was born in a different time. A previous decade. Or century, even.

But it’s hard to move forward when you’re facing backwards.

Plus, I was starting from a bad place.

I had no self-esteem. I hadn’t worked in a few years. I suffer from anxiety and have gone through episodes of major depression, so my self-esteem was low and I didn’t have much confidence when it came to applying for jobs.

I know the general population is getting a lot better in terms of understanding mental health, but the stigma of hiring someone who suffers from depression is real (I know - it’s not personal, it’s business) and this has been hard to overcome.

How can you convince someone that you’re worth the risk when you feel as though you’re worth nothing?

But, in small towns, you can count on connections, and one small business decided to take a chance on me.

It wasn’t supposed to be a long-term thing. It was just supposed to be over March Break, but it ended up lasting even longer than The March Break of 2020.

From that first business, I was recommended to two others. Before I knew it, I had three jobs. From nothing! And the opportunities from small businesses didn’t stop there.

But see, this is the exceptional thing about small business owners. Sure, they looked at my resume, and they had been given a recommendation, but they saw ME. They saw the person buried beneath all that I had been through. They saw potential.

This is what makes the difference. Small businesses see the individual in those they work with and the customers they serve. I have seen it time and time again; the extra care taken to personalize each and every transaction and the effort they take to understand their customers.

Their customers are more than just numbers. They are neighbours, coaches, teachers and friends. I have had the pleasure of seeing love and dedication poured into these businesses by some of the hardest-working people I know.

The uncertainty that I’ve felt in my life is something that small business owners have to work with every day, especially this year.

Being immobilized by fear of the future and the unknown is not an option. Business owners have to adapt and change to get ahead and stay ahead.

A lot has gone wrong this year. There is a lot that I know many people, myself included, would change.

But watching the way our communities have gathered to support small businesses during this nightmare of a year is so timely and so heart-warming. A few years ago, I would have said that a lot has gone wrong in my life, with a lot of things I would change.

That was a few years ago. Today, I am incredibly proud of where I am, and eternally grateful and humbled by the small businesses that lead me here.

This is not what I pictured at twelve when I fantasized about my future as a journalist: learning about SEO, product photography, marketing and social media strategies (well, a lot of this didn’t exist then!) But, you wanna know the truth? There’s nowhere else I’d rather be.

It’s been nearly ten years since I left journalism.

And what am I doing? I’m writing.

Just like I always wanted.

Small businesses got me here. They are the backbone of our communities. They ARE community. And we need them more than ever.

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