by Darrin J. Cook (Sales and Marketing Director)
I started my sales and marketing profession right here in Geauga County in the mid to late 90’s and through the nearly two decades of B2B I was able to learn a lot about small businesses in the area. I have met with car repair shops, nurseries, car dealers, furniture stores, electronic stores, floral shops, restaurants, and every other possible business you can think of. Each business has its own model, and it’s own reason for existence. The one thing they all have in common is hard work, dedication, and sacrifice. When I meet with a small business owner I can get a much clearer picture of what they need or don’t need because they don’t have time to tap dance around a conversation. Once I have the opportunity to talk with them they speak passionately, honestly, and to the point. I am a good listener and extremely patient, and they see that I am taking in the issues. Most, by the end of the meeting, feel a weight lifted just talking to someone who is neutral and willing to listen. I couldn’t ask for better data to go back to the drawing board with. This is something algorithms can never really track. This is vital information to begin discussing how I may be able to assist.
I have met with these owners as early as 5:30 am and as late as 8:30 pm. This is a typical day for a small business owner. Their passion wakes them up each morning and the adrenaline of problem solving keeps them going through out the day. The pressure to maintain both the mechanical and human side of a small business is immense. The ever changing employment laws, taxes, overhead, payroll are all on the mind of a small business owner yet they maintain a spirit that is hard to match. They are such an intricate part of our communities, often donating to several local organizations and schools. They invest back into the community far more than one might realize.
So, the next time you see a small business celebrating even 1 year in business it is an accomplishment that took thousands of hours, strategy, patience, leaps of faith, educated guesses, strong workers, and even a little luck. Thank you to all of the small business owners for being such a vital part of our communities. Best of luck in 2019 and beyond!