When you are living through a global pandemic that requires people to socially distance themselves from others, you have a lot of time to scroll on social media. It’s an amazing time suck.
A lot of folks are suddenly infectious disease experts and doctors all of the sudden, too. I had no idea how many successful people I was friends with.
Regardless, the overwhelming refrain on social media is to just shut down the world for two weeks or longer and ride this thing out. I see anger over businesses remaining open.
“Don’t they understand the curve?”
“Do they want to infect everyone? What is wrong with them?”
So on and so forth as I scroll down into the depths of Bookface. It’s maddening. When I finally sell all my newspapers, if it’s still a thing, I am going to gladly delete my Bookface account and never look back, but that is a different column for a different time.
It’s times like this that I realize that most people have no idea what it is like to bet on yourself, start a company, and employ yourself.
What I want to remind folks is it isn’t for everyone. There is a lot of gray hair on my head, and it all started when I bought my first newspaper almost seven years ago.
Things are tough. You screw stuff up, and you pay for it. There is no tomorrow for some of us.
And when I say pay for it, that means not taking a paycheck for a while and living like the Amish, scratching together pennies and trying to figure out which bill not to pay this month.
I have literally been in this place–staring at my wife who was in tears as we try to figure out how to make payroll.
Luckily, our business has never missed payroll. We figured stuff out. (Future autobiography spoiler alert: I wasn’t a great business person when I was 27 years old, and I still could stand to learn quite a bit at 35, too.)
Today, a lot of business owners are staring at their husbands or wives, trying to figure out how they are going to pay the mortgage and feed their kids. Not because they aren’t good business owners but because the government has shut them down, cutting off their income, and them not having anything but a loan to apply for as an answer.
See, the government is great at handing out billions to Wall Street, but when it comes to the small business community, they leave us waiting for them to finish bickering and find an acceptable solution–if that ever comes. We could pray we have savings and ride this out as long as we can. Or you can take out this loan with a global pandemic happening and one of the most uncertain futures I have ever seen in my short life. None of that is a great deal for the small business community.
So, what I ask folks on social media to do is to empathize.
I am all for social distancing. I get how the curve works. I watch the press conferences and read legit news about the situation. In fact, we are publishing tons of news about this every day, it feels like. I am informed.
I also get the life of a small business owner, because I am one. Uncertain futures, weeks of no work, and no answers isn’t a great time to be applying for a loan. In normal circumstances, it’s completely mad.
The United States Government needs to step up to the plate and come up with a package that makes sense to spare the small business community this hardship. We aren’t buying back our own stock, as we aren’t being traded publicly. We aren’t giving executives (ourselves) big paychecks, either.
Most of us just want to be able to pay our employees and their benefits without having to be up to our eyeballs in debt, or worse, lose our homes.
We aren’t Wall Street. Many of us are actually good people, and we care about our communities, and that shows through our commitment to this lifestyle. Some of us make decent money and are successful, and some of us struggle to figure stuff out. Many of us are somewhere in between.
There are no lobbyists for Kansas Publishing Ventures, and there are no lobbyists for most small businesses, and that is the problem. We can’t be heard without being big.
So, most of us are going to go to bed with a heavy heart and a lot on our minds throughout all of this. Until the government can figure this out, the best thing the public can do is smile, be kind, and ask how their favorite business is doing. If those businesses can be open safely, shoot them a few bucks if you can afford to.
We are just normal people like you. We just happen to not get a guaranteed paycheck every week, so it would be cool if you were nice about it.