Charity should begin at home, but should not stay there. ~ Philip Brooks
You have not lived until you have done something for someone who can never repay you. ~ Anonymous
A good laugh is sunshine in the house. ~ William Makepeace Thackeray
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The Cost of Doing Business
~ Lois Jones ~
Sometimes, when I tell Al I’d like to write an article on such and such, I see him kind of twitch. I’m sure part and par is the fact that I’m not quite as politically correct as society feels I should be. Don’t misunderstand me, Al is, and always has been, my support but he’s also bailed me out a few times when my mind was spoken long before I could get my foot into my mouth. I refer to it as ‘keeping the excitement alive’ and he nods and smiles.
On that note, allow me to share with you some realities of owning a small business in a suburb city in an oil and gas province. For 13 of the past 19 years that we have been in business, our living room was my office and we had storage space scattered all about. In 2006, we had to make the decision to either GO or GROW, and that is how we came into a 4,600 square foot office and warehouse space. With our growth came some harsh realities and, as I’ve heard many, many times, the old adage goes, “It’s the cost of doing business”.
In March of 2008, our phone bill and internet combined was under $100.00;however, in April of that same year, when we turned the keys to our office, our first phone bill was $289.00, because we were now deemed ‘commercial’. Our city business license was always one fee but in January of that year it was doubled. This is not meant to take a ‘dig’ at anyone, but rather a reality of what I’ve come to accept as a business owner. Being a business owner is never easy. My garbage fees went from being included in my residential taxes, to being included in my commercial condo fees. So, when I get out-of-sorts because someone has taken the liberty to use our commercial bins for their personal dumping grounds, you know it’s because it’s the business owners that pay for that. It’s no longer part of my residential taxes but rather comes right off the top of my income. Insurance – my favourite necessary evil in all the land – again, no slight to the industry because I wouldn’t be without it, but once we moved into a commercial space the cost went up substantially. Anyone want to talk about gas bills during those Alberta winter days with two big bay doors? Staffing, anyone? Certainly not easy on the little guys in a province where the cost of living and the ‘oil and gas’ mentality dictates the economy. However, on this note I have to say that we are blessed to have very loyal, fun, and hardworking staff that work their butts off, and we are very happy to have them in our Scoop family. You know, Advance Distribution will be 19 years old in a couple of weeks, and we have had some of the same original staff all along our journey. We take great pride in this!
By now you are probably wondering why I’m going on and on about the “cost of doing business.” As a kid, I used to look at Strickland’s grocery store in awe and think how rich he must be. I never thought twice about what he contributed to our community. And I never really thought about where the money came from that paid for his employees or made it possible for him to make donations. I had no idea he had to sell ‘X’ number of groceries just to turn the lights on in that big ol’ store. I think I get it now. He depended on his community’s support so that he could contribute to his community.
When we decided to GROW, there was just so much involved. From the purchase and development of the bays, to maintaining an entire Scoop family, neither one of us was really prepared for what we were committing to. Have I looked back? You bet I have, but it’s usually in awe, and never regret. As I look ahead, I see a city that isn’t slowing down anytime soon, and as I look out my upper level office window, I think to myself, “God bless the small business owner.” It is the business owners who have built this town strong. Yes, we’ve prospered from our community, but it has also allowed us to give back to it. We helped pave the way. We laid the cobblestones. We are the driving force behind the strong Economic Development in towns/cities. We showed the big guys how to do it. We helped build and mould our centers. We’ve contributed to programs that have benefited our youth, our sports teams, our dance clubs, our churches, and even each other. This support for community is not possible without the community supporting these small businesses. So, when someone asks why it’s important to support small businesses, we should all answer, “Because in doing so, we are truly supporting our community.”
Small Business Week is always a week of celebrations as entrepreneurial spirits gather at many events to shake hands, give out pats on the back, and share some laughs. But, more importantly, we will be celebrating our successes, not just of our individual businesses, but of our community as a whole.
Congratulations to the finalists on your nominations for the Airdrie Business Awards and take pride in knowing that, win or lose, it is always an honor to have helped pave and shape this incredible community alongside some of Airdrie’s finest.