Recently, I participated in a video call with about 60 other business owners. The intention was to provide a forum for people to share experiences, express needs, and offer help. I love the objective behind this, and I believe the timing and relevancy have never been more important.
Some of the themes that evolved from this conversation involved a general gratitude for what we do have, and the efforts being made to get the economy running again. There is also an internal gratitude for family and quality time that I have observed with people across the spectrum.
A recurring theme that I did not see coming was something I call “success guilt”. Similar to “survivor’s guilt” – the feeling of guilt a person experiences after surviving a horrific event when others did not. In this case, there are some businesses that are actually thriving. Depending on the type of business, you may be thriving while your neighbor is facing doom. Understanding these dynamics and helping each other may be the most critical things we can do.
Estimates suggest there are roughly 27 million businesses in The United States, and 42 million self-employed companies. I have learned that we could lose 30% or more of our small businesses as a result of this crisis. Keep in mind that by some estimations, we see a massive turnover in businesses each year. Starting a small business, even in the best of times, can lead to an enormous amount of stress for entrepreneurs. When combined with forced shutdowns, the world can become a very dark place.
If you took the number of self-employed individuals in our country and cut it by 30%, it would suggest that over 12 million or more people could see their businesses permanently shut down; this has the potential to put tons of folks into an even greater pressure cooker. In fact, the pressure can be so intense, I have heard that one of the biggest concerns for small business owners who are in trouble is suicide. I have to say that it is difficult even writing the word, but I feel it is important enough to mention.
Because I have been self-employed for over 30 years and have worked with numerous business owners, I know and fully understand the stress involved. As an entrepreneur, I can relate to the feelings many small business owners experience – like being alone on a secluded island and stuck in your own head, especially during a crisis.
However, I believe that difficult times also offer opportunities for connection and reconnection. For example, we can reach out to one another and check in, openly and honestly. If your business is thriving, consider giving back by checking in with other businesses owners (which is what I have been doing lately).
Every business owner I know knows several other business owners.
If you are thriving, wonderful.
If you are getting by, great.
If you are going down in flames, please reach out.
Gaining a different perspective can be invaluable to your small business – and in providing you with a bit of reassurance that you are not alone. Going forward, I encourage you to check in with at least three business owners to see how they are doing. You may not be able to fix anything, but simply being there and connecting may change someone’s life.
Are you a small business owner looking to make a difference? Are you an entrepreneur in need of connection during this isolating time? We can help with that! Reach out to us today to find out more.