By Susan Hamilton
The wind is blowing, my friends, and it just may be that you are looking forward to the winds of change as much as I am. Today’s airwaves and social conversations are causing level-headed people to be a little more cautious with how they air their opinions and messages.
That’s too bad, actually.
I grew up in a blue-collar family business. At some point, each of my five brothers and sisters worked for the company in one capacity or another. Each morning my mom would make an elaborate breakfast (“Hearty meals for hard work,” she said) and my dad would talk about the stuff of business that related to wisdom he wanted to impart to us. That stuff was gold. Mom and dad had owned a company their entire married lives, starting just after Dad left the Navy. At one point we picked up and moved across the country to Texas and started over, just to get away from the snow!
They knew how to negotiate with suppliers during hard times. They understood the value of working arrangements when the fleet needed repairs. Insurance was held under scrutiny and bookkeeping was a major part of the day. Customer conversations were replayed at the kitchen table so we would know the types of things customers expected and how we should respond appropriately. Customer care was everything – still is! To this day, those customer locations are known by their last name and most histories with the company can be recited at will.
If you had asked my dad, though, he wouldn’t have shared his wisdom with a video camera or a recording device. He didn’t understand the stuff of social media or why (or how) his voice or message would benefit another. Why a person needed a blog was always just a little outside of his way of thinking, and it never would have occurred to him to write an article for a magazine. He really just didn’t like all that visible stuff and he didn’t like being vulnerable to criticism or attack in such public forums. He was a humble, tough, solid family man and business owner who made a difference with other business owners all over town because he understood relationships and didn’t operate in a vacuum. Over 50 years has passed and the company still operates under the direction of my mom and brothers in his absence.
They never saw themselves as a small business. They felt family businesses were a minority– small fish.
[shadowbox]My dad would be surprised to know that 80% of American small businesses are just like his, and, in today’s over-regulated environment, struggling even more today with the stuff of life in business than he did. Today’s small businesses need his perspective. They need his encouragement, his out-of-the-box solutions when family and finances get a little tricky. And the art of diplomacy he used so well that is sadly lacking today.[/shadowbox]
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Susan Hamilton is the Chief Executive Officer at OffBeat Business Media, a business for business digital media resource for strong brand development. To learn how audio, video, digital magazine articles and ads can help you build a strong, influential brand, contact Susan@OffBeatBusiness.com or call 214-714-0495.