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Aaron Johnson: Small businesses

The past couple of years have been hard on a lot of people.

During this time of pandemic, I lost an uncle, and a brother-in-law to COVID and I did 22 funerals for friends who lost their lives due to COVID.

This season in our lives also saw businesses have challenges that this generation had never seen. Until the pandemic, few of us ever had any concern about computer chips or supply chains. Prior to COVID, if you wanted a new car or truck, you just went to the dealer and picked it out.

That all changed for a while after COVID. In fact, until very recently, no matter how much money you had, you could not purchase exactly what you wanted in a vehicle.

Perhaps those hit hardest were the small-town businesses; the businesses that once made Main Street what it was. These are the men and women who built what we now know as the United States.

We have months and days of recognition for most everything under the sun. I want to suggest we have a “Small Business Month.”

The entrepreneur is the one who dares take the risk to build something from nothing. The entrepreneur begins with an idea and most of the time with debt. The small business owner doesn’t get paid to take off for holidays.

They don’t know the comfort of having a check delivered to their account the same day each month. They don’t get vacation, sick leave, maternity leave, paid holidays, days off, or a match on their Social Security. The small business owner works on days he is sick, when an employee would have the luxury to call in sick.

When I was in high school, I worked a number of different jobs. The first real job, beyond mowing lawns, was at San Ann No. 7 in Boaz, Ala. I worked my way up to Piggly Wiggly, Paragon Decors, and RC Cola. Each and every one was owned locally by men and women who took the risk to build something. Their risk paid my salary.

Recently I came across a small plastic box. The box was designed to hold small index cards in a horizontal position. As soon as I saw it I smiled and remembered what was inside.

There, curled and stacked in order, were all my pay stubs from 1978. I worked 60 hours some weeks at Piggly Wiggly during my senior year. I was, and am, grateful for the opportunity I was given.

When parents deny their children the opportunity to work, they deny them the opportunity to build self-worth. We are seeing the evidence of a generation that never learned to work.

I have watched it happen time and again with parents who have done well financially. They don’t teach little Johnny how to work. Then, when little Johnny gets his four-year degree, he crammed into six, that he can’t make a living with, he is given a job in the family business.

I am still waiting to see one of those situations work out well for both parent and child. Without a work ethic, who will create the jobs for the next generation?

For years I have wanted to start a ministry of encouragement to business owners. I wanted to call it “The Front of the Check Ministry.” That’s because if you sign the front of the check, you understand a great deal more than if you sign the back of the check. But I thought it might be kind of tasteless. You can let me know what you think.

My hat is off to all the men and women who work when sick, create jobs and opportunities; who support the local sports teams, pay for ads in school papers and year books; who generate a tax base for their communities; who stand between customer and supplier, OSHA and employee, the IRS and the loan at the bank. May your tribe and the spirit of entrepreneurship be passed on to the next generation.

Thank you for doing your part to make America great!

Aaron Johnson is a contributing writer for Yellowhammer News. He is pastor of Christ Redeemer Church in Guntersville.

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