This is the story of a struggling business that could have thrived.
As the business was struggling, the business owner had some fear, but not a lot. Why? Well, this struggling person has faith that everything will work out.
“I will be just fine!” she says.
A person from her bank comes by and offers the struggling business a small grant. She says, “No thanks. I’ll be fine, I got this, give that to someone else who is struggling more than I am!”
Then, the president from her bank calls. The woman tells her about some of the low-interest loans that could help the struggling business, but again the struggling business owner says, “I’ll be fine, I got this, give that to someone else who is struggling more than I am!”
Finally, a person from the Small Business Administration stops by, deeply worried about the business, and tells the struggling business owner about months of low-interest rates, no payments for six months, money that is available and some local city and county grants to help lift up the business. The SBA business advisor says “I’ll help you with the forms, just schedule an hour to get started and talk about what options are right for your business. You employ five people in this community and those jobs matter to all of us, so I really want to help you through this.”
Of course, the struggling business owner still refuses and says, “I’ll be fine, I got this, give that to someone else who is struggling more than I am!” And so the person from the SBA sadly walks away, understanding that the pride of the business owner is making her ignore their support.
Sadly, two months later, the business runs out of funds, and it owes so much to creditors that it has to lay off its employees, abandon its customers, and close its doors.
As the owner is sitting with her bankruptcy attorney filling out all of the paperwork, crying, cussing, and mumbling under her breath, “How could this happen, this stupid government, this stupid pandemic, it ruined my life and killed my business.” The attorney responds, “Didn’t you hear about the grants and unemployment options that were out there? Did you go and talk with anyone at the SBA to find out about your options? Didn’t you talk with the people at your bank?” The struggling business owner replies, “Yes, BUT, I was too busy struggling. I didn’t have time for all of that, and other people had it worse than my business. But then I couldn’t make payroll and I couldn’t pay my creditors and now here I am, with my business going down.”
I speak from true experience.
The only reason I feel comfortable sharing this adaptation of a parable is because over ten years ago this was my story – minus a pandemic– and in my story, I would have said “Damn home loan people.” The difference was that in 2008 there was no PPP, no unemployment for the self-employed, no CARES Act money through banks or the SBA. By the time that recession was over, I had filed for divorce, filed for bankruptcy, was living on food stamps, welfare, and had a part-time seasonal job.
And I can tell you that having lived and learned through that experience was how I learned to receive support.
Up until then, I believed myself to be a strong, independent, self-reliant person. I didn’t need a “hand out”, I didn’t need “help” from anyone, and I could do it all on my own. Hell, I could fix my own car and build my own heated garage.
But I was wrong. I was a member of a community; I was a daughter, sister, and wife. I was a business owner and a taxpayer. I was part of so many communities and I had help all around me, but no ability to receive any of that love and support. It all got pushed away by my thick pride.
Well, that thick pride of mine almost killed me and broke my confidence to the core. Once I was at the bottom, there was nothing to do but learn, start anew, and do better than I had before. I look back and can see all of the people I rejected and their love I pushed aside.
How does that relate to today, you ask?
Right now I am having conversations with business owners, new and seasoned, and one of the most common phrases I am hearing is, “We are not hurting that bad, we are getting by, someone else has it worse, I don’t need help.”
I am going to tell you: do not wait until you are hurting that bad, because you may have missed your chance to climb out of that hole by then. I never want to see a person miss an opportunity to make a small adjustment with huge returns.
I know this current pandemic situation is a disaster for many businesses. I also know that, unlike the last major disaster in 2008, there are services and options to help and it pains me to see people refuse that support. That being said, I also know people have to do it their own way, and I never want to prevent someone from having their own learning experience if they want it that way.
Welcome in receiving.
What I want more than anything for you to take away from my words is this: it is not only okay to receive help, it is actually the only way you survive. Receiving help from others honors their skills and abilities. You are a part of the community and your success helps all of us succeed. We really are all in this together.
In all areas of our lives, we are part of a community that can help support us when we need it. Especially in this time that is challenging for so many, I encourage you to consider receiving help from the next person who offers it.
Be Well, JoyGenea