Speaking as a current business owner and an economic development director, owning and running your own business is still one of the most independent activities an American can do in this country.  On the eve of July 4, 2009, it should be remembered that most of the founders of our country were business owners.  In every circumstance I have known, business owners are very independent and passionate about their actions to succeed.   That is not to say that entrepreneurs can’t stumble and fall, from time to time; but, they most certainly never give up.  In times of trials and failure, it is usually the entrepreneur (business owner) that will make the extra effort toward attaining their goal through using another tactic.   If the business fails, they learn from their mistake and grow another business by becoming stronger the learning experience.  Think about the number of failures that Edison went through on “one” project, “the light bulb” before success in his business.  Think about the number of challenges and heartache Abraham Lincoln went through before he became the President of the United States. 

America has always been a country of leaders with an entrepreneurial spirit.  With the challenges facing our country right now, it is important for business owners to stand firm.   It is important for these current owners to share the experience of freedom they have (although difficult) with their prodogies (the younger generation).   Working in a smaller rural community, I have been encouraged by our small town business owner’s leadership for our communities, their passionate leadership to create a better environment for the next generation, and their desire to share and help the next wave of business owners.   Most rural communities have lost a vital asset over the last 50 years, many of their youth.  These graduating youth have wanted to become free and explore the world outside the rural (small town) environment.  Many of our youth, (even myself), throughout our childhood were inspired by business owners (mentors) in our area; though, encouraged by others to get an education and leave to get a better paying job (career), which all seemed to be in larger (urban areas) at that time. 

Everyone has to choose their own way and experience different areas, BUT, I feel very strongly that as citizens, educators, business leaders, and parents; we need to share the positives about living and working in small town America, about owning or developing their own business, and about becoming strong servants to our community.    Even when I graduated and worked in a larger city for five (5) years, I only then started to grasp the positives that I gave up by working and living in a large town and leaving my Hometown area.  One primary reason I came back to live and work in Phillips County was the friendliness of our people; but another was that ability to start a new business at a minimum cost.  With that being said, the cost of living was more economical, as I grew the business as well.  Yes, I know, many may say — “Well, he just could not make it in the large town atmosphere” or “He just needed to stay longer to experience the true urban setting”.  I did have several people say “I had failed, because I had moved back to the area.”.  And it may suprise you to know that individuals saying this were not just those I thought I knew in the large town, but those in my HOMETOWN! 

Gratefully, there were many more within Phillips County that saw, what I may have not at the time, an entrepreneurial spirit, in myself.  To them I say “Thank you!”, and you know who you are!  Business owners, residents, teachers and parents, all us have had our own mentors that have inspired us to become leaders for our community.  At this time in our country when entrepreneurism and foundational truths are mocked, we all need to realize that our youth is looking for someone to be their mentor.  If they know and understand that running a business is challenging, but very gratifying; they will consider pursuing that path.   If they are encouraged and supported in their defeats, that is ok to lose a battle, from time to time, but you must always focus on winning the war (long term goal).   Encourage someone that may be considering a move back into the area and given them an inspirational boost of support.  Especially now, I am sure they probably need it.  I will leave with two thoughts.  May everyone enjoy their celebration of our independence as a nation on July 4 AND, may all our new citizens moving back to the area have strong mentorship (through you) to become business owners, community supporters and servant leaders.