September 27, 2017
Small business stories are even more compelling than we thought
By: Cameron Potts, Vice President of Public Relations
We live in a world where storytelling has long been part of our culture. It is the reason we share stories around the campfire or read books to our children at night. It is the reason we escape by going to the movies or binge watching our favorite show.
For years, I’ve had the privilege to tell stories in many ways, from my start as a journalist working for newspapers in North Dakota and Minnesota to my time as a communications director for a hospital, sharing the stories of amazing doctors and nurses. When I worked for a large public relations agency, I told stories of incredible Army leaders and now at Deluxe Corporation, I write about small business owners.
Sometimes, words and pictures and video can’t do justice to the stories themselves. Sometimes, just being able to sit and listen to a small business owner share their story can lead to incredibly inspiring moments.
With the launch of the Small Business Revolution – Main Street Season 2, available at www.smallbusinessrevolution.org and on Hulu. Our team at Deluxe will share amazingly compelling stories of small business owners who are just starting out, some who have been in business for years and others trying to find their footing.
Yet for me, the best part of this season will appear only in a few seconds in the first episode. More than 110 businesses in Bristol vied for the chance to be among the top six that received the makeover from us. We could only interview 20, though likely all were deserving. Over the course of two days, we interviewed 20 business owners and heard first hand their struggles, their challenges, their joy and their unbreakable spirit.
The first interview of the 20 set the tone of the two days: a young mother who was restarting her career after some traumatic mid-life developments. Shaking, nervous, she shared intimidate details of a once burgeoning business cut short by domestic violence. Now, she was hoping for help to rekindle that business and start anew.
Throughout the two days, we were moved by just how personal the stories were. Sure, the prospect of being part of a $500,000 makeover was enticing, but I was amazed at how, just for the chance to tell their story, small business owners would open their hearts and share the depths of their passion for what they do.
Over the course of that time we heard:
- A hobby shop owner share his struggle with cancer and his desire to continue to grow his business;
- A young woman who took on the family real estate business after the death of her grandfather and father, trying to establish her own name in the process;
- A business owner who struggled with addiction and used her business to help others who suffer the same affliction;
- The owner of a flower shop who talked more about the other great businesses in town than his own, happy to shower praise on his adopted community; and,
- The owner of a breakfast and lunch joint who ensured those in need never went hungry, feeding her neighbors who couldn’t afford to pay.
Walking into any small business on any street, it is easy to fall in love with the vibe and what the owner is trying to do. In my neighborhood, I love the local micro-brew and the Neapolitan pizza joint. I have purchased olive oil from the specialty food shop. And I always take my truck to my local mechanic.
In each place, we see just the surface. We see the smiles of the owners, and we notice the way the store looks and feels, but we don’t know the stories, the struggles and the passions. What I have learned from the Small Business Revolution is that it is a revelation to own a business. You bring everything you have and everything you are into the business and, in the words of one owner, “it has to work.”
When you visit a local small business, take a few minutes to learn the story. Or at the very least, understand that there is always more beneath the surface. And what is below that surface is what makes every small business so amazing. It’s a revelation to start a revolution.