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It’s your Business so do what you want to-Part Two

[picapp align=”right” wrap=”true” link=”term=sunshine%2blandscape&iid=5276696″ src=”6/0/b/1/Rays_of_sunshine_8254.jpg?adImageId=9515058&imageId=5276696″ width=”234″ height=”156″ /]See the sun peeking through the trees?  There is hope for spring to come and there is good news in this conversation.  *This is Part Two of a 2-part post: It’s your Business so do what you want to.

PART TWO: It is your BUSINESS so do WHAT you want to.

Yesterday I took a break at noon to have lunch and while eating my sandwich [I’m one of those people who just loves sandwiches…my favorite is on homemade white bread with mayo, a couple of green leaf lettuce leaves, slice of provolone cheese, Virginia baked ham slices and thinly sliced yellow onion – good!] I watched the latest episode of Castle.  I’m such a fan of Nathan Fillion – ever since Firefly.  Anyway, the commercials were from Blackberry and their newest tag line is Love what you do and Do what you love. Great advice.  Especially for small business folks – those of us with tiny businesses…the less than 5 employees and the solo-preneurs.

Yes 2009 – even 2008 – simply was awful economically.  However I don’t want to talk about that today.  I’m one of those people who suffer from sunshine deprivation in the winter and we’ve had over a week straight of rain and clouds and I’m missing the sun…I do live in California after all…so I want to bring some sunshine into this conversation.  It’s not all bad out there and there is hope.

One of the proofs of that was in my morning newspaper’s business section.  A medical device maker is going to call my community “home” this year.  In fact it was the second company in two weeks to announce a move to my city.  According to the article by George Avalos five companies have done significant things in the past few months that will bring jobs and commerce to my community.  The companies are Bridgelux IncJLA Inc.Wiley X Inc. Enray Inc. and Admedes Inc. This is good news.  The newest mention is Admedes, a medical equipment maker and, according to the article:

  • “…Admedes has bought an 18,000-square-foot office and research building that it will use for a manufacturing center and a showcase for its medical products. The company makes miniature components for medical devices…’Our plan is to get to 50 employees in about five years,’ said Eric Veit, a vice president with Admedes Inc. ‘We are looking at and interviewing a number of people right now.’….”

There are more positive notes out there in the ether

In an article at Forbes.com, Mark Wolf wrote about “…A remarkable trend is emerging in the U.S. job market–one that will greatly impact the workplace of tomorrow. Women are becoming the nation’s job-creation engine, starting small businesses and stimulating new jobs at a rate that outdistances their male counterparts and disproportionately exceeds their current contribution to U.S. employment….”  He was referencing a newly published report by The Guardian Life Small Business Research Institute and summarized it by saying, “…Specifically, the Institute expects that women who own small businesses will create from 5 million to 5.5 million new jobs across the U.S. by 2018, and in the process transform the workplace of tomorrow into a far more inclusive, horizontally managed environment….”

I know I’m a woman business person and chose this tidbit for inclusion in this post, but don’t take it that I don’t see that men who start new small businesses aren’t also a positive factor for this year because they are.  There are only two genders and we’re all in this together.

INC.Com has a great article, 9 Home based Businesses You Can Start In Your Pajamas In 2010, and gives a short description of the 9 people who are making a go of it:

This article tells me two things: 1) there are innovative and interesting niche markets that people are creatively finding ways to have businesses in – I, for one, had never considered “Online Content Aggregation” prior to this and love the way Chris Jordan has approached the insurance business.  and 2) have you noticed that I was able to find a link to each and every one of those businesses?  Just a marketing hint: no business is too small to have a presence on the web.

Small Business Trends had an article earlier this month by Dawn Rivers Baker, Top Microbusiness Trends for 2010. She says, “…there’s no reason to imagine that there are no opportunities to be had in a sluggish economy, as any astute student of entrepreneurship will tell you. And right now is a particularly good time to run a lean, efficient microbusiness that doesn’t need a bank loan to chase growth prospects….”  Of the trends she mentions the one I’d like to highlight:

  • “…Federal contracting. Plenty of people will tell you that microbusinesses are too small to fulfill government contracts but I’m not one of them. There is still plenty of money appropriated for American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) projects that hasn’t gone out the door yet. For microbusiness contractors in construction and related sectors, there will be plenty of contracting and subcontracting opportunities….”
  • Also, in the comment section following the article Ms. Baker responds to a commenter in part: “…nonemployers are a subset of the microbusiness universe. Micros are defined as firms with fewer than five employees. Nonemployers are firms with no paid employees outside the business owner(s), which means they certainly fit the micro definition. They are, in fact, the largest portion of the microbusiness population, comprising about 80% of it….”

I found this article interesting because (a) it reminds us that the government [in the U.S.] does have money to spend on contractors and why shouldn’t the tiny businesses be included?  And (b) I found it a very interesting statistic that 80% of micro-businesses are what I call solo-preneurs…a business that is comprised of me, myself and I.  Just like the business here in my community where my husband and I take our vehicles for maintenance – Ron’s Valley Brake & Auto Repair.  Ron has a shop downtown and he’s the owner and only employee.

Another article at Small Business Trends, this one by Anita Campbell, 10 Small Business Trends and Opportunities, speaks to solo-preneurship; her trend #10:

  • “…More Sole Proprietorships – One thing that we know is that during and in the aftermath of recessions, more  people who are out of work will turn to starting their own businesses…If you are looking for businesses to start, these typically require little startup capital and may not require highly-specialized training or degrees:  pet businesses;  kids products;  Web businesses; consulting for your former employer or industry; virtual assistants; apps development; home based franchises.…”

Again, there is a mention of small business ideas I hadn’t thought of like apps development.  Interestingly, my husband’s cousin is currently developing just such a small business.  This is very cool to learn of an industry about which I previously had not known and discover it is a trend.  Cool.

Even in my industry, fine arts – I consider myself an artist-preneur – there is hope.  This Friday I will participate in the first art event of the year and who knows maybe there will be a sale or two.

So all-in-all there is hope regardless of the screaming headlines.  The sun will indeed shine again and I won’t have to rely on my Ott Lite.



If Songwriting were my Business

[picapp align=”right” wrap=”true” link=”term=music+conductor&iid=6734018″ src=”6/b/9/5/Verdis_Aida_premiered_f4ac.JPG?adImageId=9295644&imageId=6734018″ width=”234″ height=”185″ /] If I were a songwriter, these are some of the songs I would write:

I would write a lament for all those people who are displaced by war, famine or natural disaster.  My tune would be haunting and moving with violins and oboes in the background.  The words would bring tears and the words would move the listener to action.  Most of all, the song would acknowledge that being human is a very difficult thing.

I would write a protest song on behalf of all those people who are not displaced by war, famine or natural disaster.  My tune would be strident and full of trumpets and piano cascades.  The lyrics would protest that having a home with running water is not a bad thing and having enough food in the fridge is no shame.  The words would celebrate that hope is real and dreams occasionally do come true and that there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

I would write a ballad that cries of the vagaries of humans’ injustices one to another.  The tune would be a suite of guitars and voices singing both high and deep.  A touch of blues would inflect that it is we who do the wrongs to ourselves; and that, in a one line stanza, is the gist of the definition of tragedy: it all could be avoided if we but sought to understand first, then act.

I would write an aria that soars so high with voices so sweet as to make the lyrics nearly un-hear-able.  Its melody would stick to the ribs and the inner ear bones with a vise grip of harpsichord strains.  The discourse would move from crying about the silliness of saying you’re sorry for putting the world in financial chaos to the dismay of countries who cannot care for their populations unaided.  A single voice would rise above the mantle of sound to cry enough!

I would write songs that speak to:

  • the sadness of people hurting in all parts of the world
  • the joys of people who are not hurting in all parts of the world
  • the complexities of the human condition
  • an overriding question of when? When will we, the loudest form of life on this planet, realize that we’re not of separate tribes, but of one?

These are songs I would write if songwriting were my business.  What songs would you write?  I know that “Linda’s Business Blog” isn’t a platform for societal or political statements…but sometimes I can’t help myself.  As one person speaking her mind on this day – I hate war, I despise injustices and my heart hurts for the tragedies that are so overwhelming in parts of the world.  I hate that one Tibetan young woman, attending college in my state, cannot even stand for her own people without being spied upon by another nation through her laptop.  Good grief.


Is your business on the Highway or the Byway?

[picapp align=”right” wrap=”true” link=”term=highway+signs&iid=259699″ src=”0256/8cc02d39-2a22-43c0-ba77-ab28011c1391.jpg?adImageId=8890792&imageId=259699″ width=”234″ height=”158″ /]We all can admit that 2010 is going to be an uphill climb for businesses of all kinds and sizes.  Doesn’t matter if you are a solo-preneur or a global conglomerate with 20,000 employees…it’s an uphill climb.  And maybe now, this week, maybe even today, you decide on which road you will travel: the highway or the byway.

The highway is a main public road that connects one town or city with another.  It’s an artery connecting people one to another making commerce both possible and efficient.  The byway is a little out-of-the-way side road.  It is little traveled and isn’t really meant to be a commercial artery.

There was a feature story in my newspaper’s business section this morning that showcased a small family business that I believe is on the highway.  To me, some of the signposts of being on the highway are:

  • a dream and passion for the business
  • determination to make the business work
  • great customer service
  • offering added value

The article by David Morrill, Contra Costa Times, is titled “Vacuum center owner on job 7 days a week,” [different title in online version].  In reading the article, I find that Mr. Raees Iqbal’s business, Western Vacuum & Sewing Center, is not only traveling on the highway, Mr. Iqbal carries all the signposts. [from the article]

  • a dream and passion for the business – “…‘It’s great to be able to offer something that every single house needs,’ he said. ‘We give them good dependable vacuum cleaners to help keep their homes clean….'”
  • a determination to make the business work – “…Raees Iqbal keeps the doors open seven days a week. And he works nearly every day…’Right now we are just trying to hang out here and make it work,” Iqbal said. “I’m going to do everything I can to keep it going….'”
  • great customer service – “…Iqbal knows his company needs to be on top of the industry. Every vacuum cleaner brand that comes in, he needs to be able to fix. If a customer needs a part, it has to be on the shelf.…”
  • offering added value – “…’We have to treat everybody like they’re VIP,’ he said….”

These signposts of being on the highway are no guarantee of success certainly.  They are, however, indicators that the business is making every effort to be alive and vibrant.  Just like Mr. Iqbal is quoted in Mr. Morrill’s story, he’s willing to do what he must to keep his business going.  The article is not a long or comprehensive one, but Mr. Morrill gave a pretty clear picture of one small business owner’s strategy for 2010:

  • be available to customers – keeping his store open 7 days a week is one way
  • provide needed services onsite – keeping up-to-date on his industry and keeping his shelves stocked with parts
  • have a customer-centered business – in his own words, “…treat everybody like they’re VIP….”
  • keep the dream alive – “‘…make sure that you are really passionate about what you want to do and have a whole lot of patience.…'”

Not to put too fine a point on it and turn this into nothing but flowery prose I think what’s important for all of us who own businesses and wish to remain in business this year is to determine what we’re going to be willing to do to stay on the highway and off the side roads: defining the dream and vision; knowing our industry and products and services inside and out; offering customers quality care and added value…and hanging in there.


Let’s make Courtesy the Hallmark in Business for 2010

[picapp align=”left” wrap=”true” link=”term=new+years+++ball+2010&iid=7442881″ src=”8/a/6/2/Ball_Drop_In_dc39.jpg?adImageId=8778463&imageId=7442881″ width=”234″ height=”351″ /]A hallmark is a distinctive characteristic or attribute.  Kind of like a stamp used on gold and silver coins to mark them for purity and excellence.  If you get a gold coin with this hallmark, then you know it’s pure.

Courtesy, in a simple definition, is a polite gesture.  You say “thanks” when someone picks up the coin you dropped on the floor at the cash register or you say “no, you go first” when approaching a door and the person next to you has their hands loaded with packages.  Simple courtesy.

Since we just finished the major shopping season of the year for 2009 and most of us braved the stores amid madding crowds I wonder if you can recall moments of simple courtesy?  How many business people extended courtesy when the crowds were at their crush-iest and most demanding?  And, did you return courtesy for courtesy?  One example I participated in was to allow a pedestrian to cross the lane in a busy shopping center…I could have just plowed ahead pretending not to see this woman standing there hoping for a break in traffic.  But I reasoned that if it were me, I sure would appreciate having a car stop so I could cross…so I stopped.  She not only acknowledged my effort at courtesy, she returned it by saying loudly, “thank you so much.”

Last year, 2009, wasn’t a fun year in business.  Not a jolly year for the economy.  Too many people suffered job loss and paycheck shrinkage.  2010 may not be much better.   What could be better, however, is our combined efforts at being kind one to another.

  • sales staff people could acknowledge shoppers with a smile and a “how is your day?”
  • counter staff people could say “thank you for your business” and “is there any other way I can be of service today?”
  • on-site managers could both be kind to the employees and the customers – give the employees much needed positive reinforcement such as “you did a great job on that report,” or “I appreciate how you handled that situation with that customer,” or even “is there anything I can do to make your job easier?” [in some cases this could be a better chair or new keyboard or some added training]; the on-site manager could come out of his or her office and help customers…in a retail setting, the manager does not get sales compensation and shouldn’t take anything away from the commission-earning sales staff, but maybe the manager could help to tidy up the sales counter or do a little stocking of shelves to help
  • business leaders could literally lead in this effort by making courtesy a hallmark of doing business this year: acknowledge that raises may not come this year and no one might get a bonus, but that doesn’t mean that positive reinforcement needs to dry up.  Business leaders could do everything within their current budget creatively to make their businesses a positive place to work for the employees and a positive place for customers and clients to do business
  • solo-preneurs [single person businesses and home-based business owners] can also adopt the hallmark of courtesy in their relations with clients, customers, suppliers and competitors

What about the consumer? I’m not leaving them out either.  We’re all consumers, every one of us.  We all shop at the grocery store and gas station.  We all purchase food for our pets and visit our health care providers.  In every instance we can say “thank you for taking your time,” and “I appreciate your finding this,” and “yes, please” and even “no, thank you.”

Simple courtesy practiced and perfected by all of us on both sides of the business plate just might make this New Year a bit more pleasant for all.


What’s the deal with gold and bridge tolls?

[picapp align=”left” wrap=”true” link=”term=gold+bars&iid=7094402″ src=”f/f/3/c/GLD_Fifth_Anniversary_6d0f.jpg?adImageId=8306180&imageId=7094402″ width=”234″ height=”158″ /]There is a song on the Christmas holiday television special, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” that has Sam the Snowman storyteller singing about “Silver and Gold” on the holiday trees.  Who doesn’t like gold? One of my favorite color combination’s for Christmas decorating is red and gold [blue and silver falls second for me].

I’ve been following financial news this year – who hasn’t? – and wondering what all the fuss is about investing in gold.  I’ve said before that I’m not a financial whiz and certainly no expert in investing.  So I read with interest one of Cliff Pletschet’s recent columns in which he answers some questions for me about gold.  He wrote a column on December 9 in which he touched on a couple different topics, gold included.  About gold he said, “Remember how I recently lamented that gold was not a good investment because of its price volatility, because it doesn’t pay dividends, and because timing is essential since you can make money only by selling before a drop in the price you paid?...”

In asking his questions he answered mine.  Okay gold is a problem because:

  1. price volatility
  2. no dividends
  3. timing is key to the buying/selling for profit

But Cliff goes on to include these issues:

  • “…storage facilities for gold bars and coins have been filled up. HSBC, owner of one of the largest gold vaults in the United States, has told retail clients to remove their small holdings from its lock-up to make room for lucrative institutional investors….”
  • “…Internal Revenue Service has reminded gold owners that gold and silver are considered collectibles, not capital assets…When these assets are held for less than one year, gains are taxed as ordinary income.…”

Okay, so now my list of reasons to avoid gold as an investment is now:

  1. price volatility
  2. no dividends
  3. timing is key to the buying/selling for profit
  4. no place to store my minuscule horde
  5. it’ll be taxed just like a paycheck [if held less than a year – and if longer, according to Cliff’s article, “…gains on the sale of gold and silver investments, including gold and silver-backed exchange-traded funds and gold and silver bullion and coins (except certain U.S.- issued coins) are taxed at the maximum rate of 28 percent when held for longer than a year.…”

There are those reading this who will have their own list of reasons why gold makes a good investment but after doing a  Google search I found it difficult to find someone who thinks so in a way I can understand.   Dominic Frisby, whose December 1 article at MoneyWeek [dot com], kind of helps. He says in the article, “…Gold remains a great bet…” but then goes on to talk about rising and falling and shakeouts and patterns and corrections and throws in something cautionary about the Dubai credit crisis, “…If the fears stemming from these Dubai debt problems are real and we are on the cusp of another liquidity crisis, then I would expect gold to fall, at least at first. Despite the fact that gold is a safe haven during times of stress in the banking system, there is also a lot of hot and speculative money pushing gold higher….”

I admit to being confused.  Is gold a good investment because its price is high and looking to stay high so that those who watch it very closely can sell if it looks like it’ll drop in price?  Is it virtual gold?  How much gold is actually out there for people to invest in?  Bars? Coins? Jewelry? Do we keep our gold bars in the bank in a safe deposit box and hope that one day we’ll be able to sell it for more than we paid? – kind of like houses in California.  Not good investments, houses in California.

I like reading Cliff Pletschet’s column for two reasons: one, his column appears in my local newspaper’s business section so I can read it over my breakfast with my cup of tea and second, he writes in a way I can understand – I’m not a financial person but he makes it understandable. Thanks Cliff. Well, there is a third reason, Cliff and his wife, Fran have a home-based business and produce a Personal Investment Educator newsletter.  They say this about their business:

  • “…[Personal Investment Educator] P.I.E. is a home-based business operated in Oakland, California by Cliff and Fran Pletschet. Their main goal is to encourage people to educate themselves so they can become independent investors and take charge of their money….”

I like to highlight home-based business as this is my niche.

Speaking of niches…it doesn’t matter if you have a home-based business or a large business, if you live in the Bay Area of California, bridge tolls are about to get financially crippling.   Toll roads and bridges are nothing new and show up all over the country. We ran into toll roads last winter while vacationing in Southern California, traversing highways 241, 261, 133 and 73.  Tolls can nickle and dime you to death it seems.  Here in the Bay Area, a rise in tolls is going to hurt pocketbooks, both during the work week and the weekend.  My husband and I live in the East Bay but occasionally travel to other areas which require crossing a bridge and we currently have to fork over $4.00 each time.

The best write-up about the possible raise in toll fees came in this morning’s paper on the Opinion Page – the Editorial, “Onerous toll hikes.”  I like that word, onerous;’ it means burdensome.  The online article has a different title, but the copy is the same.   The most telling remark for me is this, “…The toll czars say they want to introduce Bay Area motorists to congestion pricing — how arrogant and dismissive that is to those who cannot alter their work hours. Many of these people are in lower-paying jobs and can ill afford to pay an extra $2 a day, or $500 a year, just to get to and from work…”

It’s not just those with 9-5 jobs who cannot change their hours, it’s the many folks who are solo-preneurs who must travel to visit clients and customers…and potential clients and customers.  It’s the many folks who have home-based businesses who must travel to purchase supplies and make deliveries.  Just like the little penguin Ramon in “Happy Feet” who says, “Lemme tell something to joo…” I say to whomever listens, California is a very difficult place to live on a budget.  Housing costs are way too high. Grocery [food and sundries] prices have risen too high. Gasoline prices remain too high. It costs too much to get around.  In this part of the world jobs are in one geographical location and housing in another…most people cannot afford to live near their employment so travel on the freeways and over bridges is necessary.

Yes, I’m complaining.  On behalf of the truckers I’m complaining.   “…The toll for a small three-axle truck would rise from $6 to $15. Large seven-axle semis would see their tolls rise from $13.50 to $35.…” [from the editorial]

And these increases would, of course, be passed on eventually to the consumer.


Standing for the tiny business sector

[picapp align=”left” wrap=”true” link=”term=paperboy&iid=75238″ src=”0072/8b6b57a7-cc06-4e2d-b8ac-6459166865c6.jpg?adImageId=8110054&imageId=75238″ width=”234″ height=”351″ /]There exists a business segment that I’d like to hear and read about more – the tiny business sector.  Businesses with 10 employees or less. Businesses with only one person – the solo-preneur.  Just like the newsboy in the photo, there are millions of people working [or trying to] around the world to make their living out of their home office or garage or a corner of the kitchen.  Or they have a small shop downtown with two or three employees.   You don’t read about federal government bailouts for owners of lemonade stands or taco lunch trucks do you?

I’ve been noticing some articles around the news that seem to be addressing small business, but most seem to be in the jobs creation department rather than the stimulating more consumer spending department which is what the tiny business sector needs.  One interesting article is at  The Huffington Post [dot com], written December 3 by Shahien Nasiripour and titled, “No Easy Jumpstart to Get Small Business Hiring Again.”  There was one spot in the article that caught my attention and I thought was right on the money [so-to-speak]:

  • “…The two leading small-business advocacy organizations – the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) and the National Small Business Association (NSBA) – have differing views. The NSBA points to the lack of credit as one of its top priorities. But in a report released last month based on survey data, the NFIB noted that while its members were having difficulty getting loans, it was far from a top priority. ‘Too many [business] owners have no reason to borrow,’ the authors wrote. ‘The biggest problem was a dearth of customers.’…” [note: I kept Mr. Nasiripour’s links intact in this excerpt except one]

What I want to point out is the last statement of that excerpt: “…’The biggest problem was a dearth of customers.’…” – For the tiny business sector getting a business loan seems pointless…what for?  What we need are customers, cash-in-hand paying consumers.  I read a comment on an article somewhere yesterday [forgive my faulty memory as I’m fighting a cold and laryngitis this week] that suggested the U.S. federal government give all taxpayers a monthly ATM card pre-filled with $500 that has to be spent within the 30 days.  The idea was given as a way to boost consumer spending.  An interesting one.

Another article I found today at the Wall Street Journal online by Diana Ransom and titled, “The White House Works It,” summarizes the most recent ideas to create jobs.  Small business owners, about 130 of them, were among those who met at the White House with others representing differing business segments and sectors.  But in looking at those top ideas, none seemed to benefit the tiny business sector – the one sector most probably not expected to be part of  job creation.  The top ideas from the article:

  1. Work Share Tax Credit – the one comment I found relevant was “…Micro-businesses (firms with fewer than 20 employees) would likely be left out, says Dean Baker, a co-director at the nonpartisan Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. “Presumably, you would want to aid firms other than ones that employ close friends and family members,” he says….”
  2. Jobs Tax Credit – solo-preneur businesses will not benefit from this as this type of business does not hire or job share.
  3. ‘Cash for Caulkers’ “…Depending on how many property owners take up the initiative, the plan could not only provide jobs to the hard-hit construction sector, it would limit carbon emissions and reduce owners’ energy costs….” My thought on this one was that if you had a fellow who was an independent contractor, this could be a help to him…and I know two personally; however, this idea does depend on property owners having the budget to hire the work done. [As an aside, it is one thing to offer home owners tax incentives to participate in this type of initiative, but the reality is that they still must have the budget to afford it in the first place.]
  4. Public Works Projects – This one might be valuable to solo-preneurs if there are people with their own business who have these skills and if the initiative would include the solo-preneur.
  5. Payroll Tax Holiday – again this idea is vested in job creation rather than increasing consumer spending.
  6. Capitalizing Community Banks “…would give small businesses a greater chance of landing loans…” – this idea is grounded in the getting loans for expansion which would result in more hiring.  Tiny businesses might need loans for improvement or supplies…what about that kind of loan?

As followers of this weblog may have noted, recently I changed my own solo-preneur business from that as an independent distributor of a direct selling company’s product to being the direct seller of my own [art] product(s).  Life is a journey and it has been interesting to me to watch my own understandings and ‘light bulb’ moments as my business has grown and changed.  I have friends who remain in that other business and this past year their customers have been buying less or dropping as customers altogether.  If any reader is familiar with the art market, for the home-based artist-preneur, the art market for the past two to three years has been like a desert.  I participated in a huge Open Studios tour in 2008 that the previous year had been a financial success for many artists…last year sales were dismal and attendance was down 50%.  People just weren’t buying art.  Even the artists at the event who normally can expect a portion of their annual income went home greatly disappointed and in the red.

So. In all the plans and discussions about economic recovery and helping small business, where are the ideas for the tiny business sector and for jump-starting consumer spending?


A Business to be Thankful for

[picapp align=”left” wrap=”true” link=”term=angels&iid=200079″ src=”0196/7063947d-daac-4da2-9524-7c597b2d9e81.jpg?adImageId=7843816&imageId=200079″ width=”234″ height=”351″ /]You might think I’m going to mention my own business as one to be thankful for [which I am] on this eve of the Thanksgiving holiday in the U.S. – not so.  I am thankful for so very many businesses “out there” but today especially these following,  have touched my life in some way this day:

Visiting Angels, Living Assistance Services – this is an extraordinary business whose people provide “…family alternative to assisted living facilities and nursing homes.…”  We have a family member for whom the Visiting Angel who comes three times a week is an angel indeed.  There comes a point in the drama of dementia when the one with this illness no longer responds to her own family…but this caregiver can raise a smile, encourage a laugh and provide a walk to the park.  Visiting Angels are human blessings…and a business to be thankful for.

Los Vaqueros Grill, “Mexican traditions with American twists”…according to their website!  This charming restaurant is about a six minute walk from my home and today provided me with a solo relaxing and enjoyable lunch.  One of the perks of having a home-based business is choosing where I have lunch – most days I admit it’s right here in front of my laptop at my desk…but today I needed a quiet getaway.  This is a business for which I’m thankful today.   I sat in their greenhouse dining area and enjoyed a lunch of:

  • “…Tilapia Tacos Anchiote – marinated tilapia, sauteed and placed in soft flour tortillas. Then topped with a scallion, cilantro and chipotle sour cream, tropical pineapple mango coleslaw and queso fresco….”
  • I started with an appetizer:  “…Camarones Rellenos Culiacan – Our most popular appetizer. White tiger shrimp filled with Gouda cheese, wrapped in bacon, quickly fried then topped with chipotle mayonnaise….”
  • add iced tea then coffee and churros for dessert.  And lest you think I ate it all, I saved half for my husband’s dinner for tonight.

Nike brand walking shoes – why would I put this humongous company in as a business I’m thankful for today?  It’s because of the walking shoes that allowed me to go to lunch in comfort.  I’m not an athlete by any stretch of the imagination [although in college I ran some cross country but that was quite a few years ago] and due to most of a year walking barefoot on the sands of Waikiki in the late ’90’s [sounds like a hardship doesn’t it?] I have some foot challenges…so the Nike brand walking shoes help. From the Nike website:

  • “…When Nike co-founder Bill Bowerman made this observation [‘if you have a body, you are an athlete’] many years ago, he was defining how he viewed the endless possibilities for human potential in sports. He set the tone and direction for a young company called Nike.…”

Today thinking about my feet was something I didn’t have to do as I enjoyed a walk outdoors on a beautiful autumn California day.

Gap, Inc – I’m thankful for this business because my younger son-in-law works there.  This brilliant young man is an Apple IT genius and works in the San Francisco headquarters office.  In these troubling economic times, especially in California with its incredibly high unemployment numbers this year, I am extremely grateful and thankful that my daughter and her husband are okay.   The founder of Gap, Don Fisher, said:

  • “…I created Gap [in 1928] with a simple idea: to make it easier to find a pair of jeans. We remain committed to that basic principle….”

And it is principles like this that keep young people like my son-in-law employed.

Raley’s – my other son-in-law has worked for Raley’s for several years.  Raley’s founder, Tom Raley, “…opened his first store in Placerville, California in 1935. His dedication, hard work and vision are the seeds from which our family of stores continues to grow….”  And this son-in-law fits that description perfectly – dedicated and hard working.  I am so very thankful that this is another young family [my daughter, son-in-law and their 2-year old] that are ending this calendar year without layoff or unemployment over their heads.  Raley’s is another business for which I am thankful today.

I heard a saying once that went something like, ‘as goes GM, so goes the country;’ not so I say.  Rather let’s give thanks to the businesses that represent the people who are our neighbors, friends and family – as they go, so goes the country.

Happy Thanksgiving.