Small Business Rocks (when it’s not too busy dancing solo!)

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Every business


 has a responsibility 


to those who support, 


patronize, and service it. 


     I just heard a great radio commercial about two competitive antique stores right near each other that urged listeners to visit both places!  Can you imagine? 

     Do the businesses in your town cooperate and help one another, or do they seem to be out for themselves?  Is business cooperation real or just given lip service?

     Local business organizations seem to breed more in-fighting and one-upmanship games than genuine teamwork efforts to support the growth of area business.  One exception appears to be the Market Street “arts” or “creative” district undergoing major revitalization in downtown Wilmington, Delaware.

     Unfortunately, however, business teamwork face-liftings like this are rarely the norm.  “There’s always a small band of energetic active members,” reports one frustrated chamber of commerce leader I spoke with recently, “but they can never seem to put a fire under the others — the majority.  Our more aggressive businesspeople end up going under, over, or around the rest of our membership.  Our efforts are not nearly as representative of the town’s businesses as we like to think they are.”  

     One Virginia merchant chatted freely about her refusal to be involved because, she says, “All these organizations are the same: they collect dues, fees, subscriptions, and donations and either do nothing to promote business in town because they can’t agree on what to do, or they do things that benefit only a few businesses — the most active, or the biggest (which of course pay the highest amounts).”  

     “She’s right,” chimed in a neighboring business owner who happened by.  “Or, the other extreme is that whenever one of these so-called business organizations ends up doing something, it gets so completely screwed up because it ends up being done in such an unbusinesslike manner.  It’s embarassing!”  Hmmmmm.  Y’think?

     A New Jersey retailer/friend said, “Every year, I get membership sales pitch calls from the local chamber of commerce, the county chamber of commerce, the state chamber of commerce, the national chamber of commerce, the National Federation of Independent Business, the Small Business Administration, the local merchants’ association, the Better Business Bureau, you name it!  If I could afford all these memberships, I’d be making so much money I wouldn’t need their help!”

     Add to this list, solicitations from youth and senior groups; athletic teams; health and education  programs; charitable organizations; community food banks; fire and police departments; EMT and first aid squads; state police; high school and college organizations, and on and on. 

     Every one most certainly a worthy cause.  It’s simply that running a financially successful-enough business to be able to afford to help all these fine folks when they come knocking at the door becomes increasingly difficult if not impossible.

     The best way to avoid the upset feelings that accompany making (or not being able to make) these kinds of contributions is to be sure to budget them in as a normal cost of doing business, to stick with what you’ve bugeted (and tell unexpected solicitors you’ll consider them for next year’s budget, or simply include a contingency fund in your budgeting for “emergency” situations). 

     Of course it’s also worth remembering that the vast majority of these causes is tax-deductible, and –most importantly– that every business has a responsibility to the community that supports and services it, and to the support services in that community!

     As for building more cooperative and more supportive attitutes between neighboring businesses, tune in tomorrow!   halalpiar   

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