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Steven Strauss Column: Thankful

December 9, 2011

With the holiday season upon us, I am reminded that small business owners and their employees have much to be thankful for this year, indeed every year, such as, in no particular order:

Still being in business: With the economy in the doldrums, with unemployment still too high, with Europe teetering on the brink of default, it is no small feat that you still have a business. That business pays the bills and feeds the family. It may or may not employ people, but it certainly provides people with goods and services they need.
You are still standing.

With all of the people who are out of work, with all of the businesses that have shuttered their doors, we are sincerely thankful that we are still in business. No, it’s not easy – especially now – but I don’t know any entrepreneur who would trade his gig in for a real (as I used to say to my wife when I looked for one back in the day) j-j-j-job.

Our customers: Customer loyalty is almost an oxymoron these days, so to those customers who stay with us year in and year out, thank you, thank you, thank you. If not for you, we would not get to live the entrepreneurial dream – in all its pain and glory.

Our staff: No one can do it all alone, and as such every small business should be incredibly grateful for having people around who buy into the plan and help carry it out. Whether it’s a part-time virtual assistant or a staff of 50, employees make it all possible. We are thankful that you help us so, we are thankful that we can afford to keep you on, and I bet most of wish we could do more for you.

Our family: By the same token, it is practically impossible for an entrepreneur to create and run a business without the love and support of his or her family. So to those spouses and children who put up with our long hours, to our friends who have to hear our crazy schemes, and to our extended clan who sometimes don’t get it but tolerate it anyway, we say thank you. Your support means more than you probably know.

Our team: Whether it’s a supplier who extended terms to make things easier this year, or the banker who said yes, or the colleague who steered a big, new client our way, small business people typically have an extended network of people for whom they are incredibly thankful and lucky to know. You are the folks who help us stay in business and to you we owe a debt of gratitude.

This great country: Yes, our politics are broken and the parties are ridiculous. Yes, times are tough. Yes, our schools and infrastructure need attention, but is there any other place you would rather live and choose to start and run a business? Nope, me neither.
This is an incredible country, especially for entrepreneurs.

I just heard a stat yesterday that said more foreign-born entrepreneurs still choose to come to America to start their businesses than any other country. And we all know why:

•    We are the land of the free and the home of the brave. That is, we allow people the opportunity to take a chance here, and succeed or fail of their own merits. Many countries discourage such risk taking, especially by foreigners. We not only encourage entrepreneurial risk-taking, we celebrate it.
•    We have a great history of entrepreneurship here. We love entrepreneurs. They are our modern-day rock stars.
•    The American Dream applies to us all, no matter where we began.

Small businesses in the United States are blessed. We have much to be thankful for. I know I do.

Thanks for reading this column and a Happy Thanksgiving and holiday season to you all. You make it possible.

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