Can we talk about something that many people are struggling with right now? It may not be a 'fun' subject to talk about, and it may be a little more controversial than what I usually share or like to post. But... I feel like it needs to be said and shared. Most importantly, I want to share this because I feel like we all need a little more grace than what we are currently giving each other.
I didn't start this blog to revolve it around this pandemic, but since I started it during it, it appears that that's where a lot of my thoughts are focused on at the moment.
By the way, before you read any further - this is NOT a political post. This is simply a warm hearted opinion based on my own reading of others' posts, research I've done, and my personal experience with my own business and my husband's small business.
Now, I cannot speak for everyone of course, but this is me speaking from my heart and what I have been seeing shared on social media right now. People are really hurting right now; for various reasons - whether it's due to being ill from the virus, being laid off from their job, etc. But the people I want to talk about right now is small business owners - because they are near to my heart, obviously. They are hurting, you guys. Your friends and family members who decided to take a leap of faith and start a business of their own are hurting through no fault of their own. I don't care how much they did or didn't have in their savings; this is not something anyone could have planned for. Being forced to close business down - likely their only means of income and they have no choice but to shut the place down. Think about that!
They were forced to shut down their business. They were told they would be taken care of. They were told to apply for a SBA or PPP loan, or to file for the new pandemic unemployment insurance that the CARES Act provided in order to help them make up for loss profits and revenue - or simply, help them pay the bills that would still be coming due regardless if their business was closed or not. They were told to do all these things because the government forced them to close. But you know what they were not told?
They were not told that that "emergency" grant that the SBA was supposed to provide to each small business that applied would never show up, and if it did, it would be at least a month (not the 3 days they were told) before it just magically appeared in their account AND it would not be for the amount that the CARES Act stated it would.
They were not told that the unemployment insurance benefits they would be applying for would still not be ready to go a month later. Do you know what a relief it was for self employed people to be told they would actually be eligible to receive unemployment, just for it to be something they are still waiting on a month after applying? I get it, the state's system (or anyone for that matter) was not prepared to handle this level of claims, or self employed peoples' claims; I understand that. What I don't get is that these self employed people (who in all honesty would probably much rather risk getting sick if it meant they could keep their business open and their livelihood in tact) can't even get a definitive answer on when they will be helped! It's always "next week" or "soon" or "we're working on it". Literally.
Something you may or may not know about small business owners is this... In my experience, they are some of the most hardworking people you will come across. They don't want a handout. They don't want to have to rely on the government to give them money. They don't want to rely on anyone for that matter, except for themselves. This is most likely why they went into business for themselves. But they have been pushed into a position where they are not allowed to do business and they are being told to rely on these "things" the government has put into place for them. But these "things" don't feel like they exist at the moment. I'm sure eventually it will all get cleared up, but for so many, eventually is going to be too late.
I share this because many people who are not in the small business space may not be aware of how this population has been impacted. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion on whether or not Oklahoma should start reopening the state. Maybe you are or know someone who is considered a vulnerable population and you'd prefer them not to reopen in fear of that person getting sick. We all have our reasons on why we should or shouldn't reopen the state - no one is right or wrong. So when your small business friends are fighting in favor to reopen because they have kids to feed and bills to pay, I just ask that you give them some grace. It doesn't mean they don't care about the health of humanity. It just means that they are not getting any help they were told they would while their business is shutdown and they are worried about taking care of their family. We are all doing the best we can during a time none of us have ever experienced. Let's extend some grace to each other - we all need it.
(Below is a picture of some of our friendors in the wedding industry). I'm the 'We'. :)