Burns Lake entrepreneurs regularly make the pages of the Lakes District News, and this week is no exception. It can be easy to take them for granted, but they are at the core of what makes this community a great place to live.
Stepping out on your own as an entrepreneur is one of the most challenging things a person can do in our modern economy. The deck isn’t stacked in your favour no matter what sector you consider.
Small retailers must find a sliver light in the shadow of big box stores and their massive buying power. Small industrial go-getters face capital costs and financing that can quickly cripple a nascent business before it’s had a chance to get off the ground and find its feet.
It is so much easier to collect a paycheque and turn your work brain off at the end of the day. The end of the day for local entrepreneurs usually means the beginning of their second job(s) as bookkeeper, business analyst, estimator, purchaser, and so on. It’s fair to assume that the eight hour work day doesn’t exist for small business owners.
Will to succeed – in a word, ambition – does not guarantee success. Ambition pays almost guaranteed dividends as an employee, but for an entrepreneur, hard-work and sleepless nights might not mean a thing for so many reasons beyond their control.
So why do they do it?
Some find great financial reward for their effort, but I bet most small business owners need to find their satisfaction in something other than that.
Anecdotally, most of the small operators whom I’ve talked to over the years say the same thing. They could probably take home the same money for less work if they simply worked for someone else. This doesn’t make them crazy, but it does make them outliers in our economy.
Many small business owners find their satisfaction somewhere else, whether it’s in a sense of being the masters of their own destinies or the satisfaction that comes from creating something out of the seeming nothing of an idea and a vision.
There’s not one village, town or city that wouldn’t be immensely poorer in their absence. Not just in terms of the jobs they provide, but in terms of the social and cultural diversification they bring to local economies and communities.
Think of all the small businesses in Burns Lake, even just the ones you visit on a regular basis. Now add to that mix the local organizations like the cinema, our Lakes District Arts Council, the Burns Lake Minor Hockey Association, the Omineca Ski Club, the Burns Lake Mountain Bike Association, and so on, that benefit greatly from generous local business sponsorship.
Take that collection and imagine Burns Lake without any of them. There wouldn’t be much left. What is left would look more like a large work camp than a community.
While this isn’t to say we owe it to local businesses to shop locally – nobody is more aware than those owners themselves that there has to be real value in shopping local – but, speaking for myself, I do feel compelled to give local business owners a fair shot.
This Friday is Mistletoe Mania, with a Christmas parade and late-night shopping. It’s a great opportunity to check out local businesses and return the support they consistently show to the community.
It’s worth stopping for a moment to think about all the things you love about Burns Lake, and then asking yourself how much of that relies on small, local business owners and their resilient spirit of free enterprise.