Words of Wisdom: Mind Your Own Business

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Contributing Editor Walt Pickut
Contributing Editor Walt Pickut

Usually, that means “Don’t be a busybody and don’t pry!” It’s a verbal No Trespassing sign that is never put out in a kindly way.

But what if you really could mind your own business? Wouldn’t it be nice if you actually had your own business to mind?

Whatever kind of business it would be, it would be all your own, and that’s a great start. You’d be your own boss, your own employee, and you could really start to get ahead. Just remember what Mark Twain said. “The secret to getting ahead is getting started.”

Starting as your own small business owner, with any success at all, you would probably not work alone for long. With a spouse or a partner, you would soon join the ranks of the small business category called Mom & Pop Shops that have thrived all across the country for years.

Author and business consultant, Robert Spector, has some good news for you. “Mom & pop stores are not about something small; they are about something big. Ninety percent of all U.S. businesses are family owned or controlled.”

Small Business Week is back for 2020 and your Jamestown Gazette’s cover story this week is all about the New York Experience in small business.

“Small business is the backbone of our economy,” Michele Bachmann, recent member of Congress from Minnesota, said. “I’m for big business, too. But small business is where the jobs are generated.”

But just because small businesses have been thriving for years does not mean it is easy. There is an old saying that every small business owner in the United States agrees with. “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and shows up looking like work.”

Unfortunately, in the day of Corona-19, it is more work than ever. Even if your business is called essential, you may have had to lay off workers and minimize the foot traffic to your door. That means more work for you.

Minding your own business is getting harder. If you worked your way up to your business by years of hard work for somebody else, poet Robert Frost knows your pain. “By working faithfully eight hours a day you may eventually get to be boss—and work twelve hours a day.”

But this week your Jamestown Gazette brings you some new small business ideas that may succeed even with fewer people working. Consider these people-replacement ideas:
Suppose you operated a massage parlor. One health and beauty spa owner recently replaced a massage artist with a new “employee.” For about $70, clients can enjoy a soothing snake massage. The non-venomous serpent will slither over a customer’s aching muscles and sore joints. One fewer employee but no less service. It remains unclear, though, whether there are any more customers.

Or how about copying another entrepreneur serving people who want company but don’t feel safe near people these days. This business owner recycles store mannequins. Customers can buy them and hang out with someone-thing that used to live in a store window. Good company with no social distancing required.

Then there’s the simple fix for anyone who wants a lawn mowed but doesn’t want a stranger coming to their home. Try the business called “Rent-a-goat.” Chautauqua County has lots of those, or if you prefer, lots of sheep. They will keep your grass short and fertilize it at the same time. No human contact required.

It’s time to celebrate the creativity and hard work of local small business owners. They are our friends and neighbors and they deserve our support.

And please don’t forget that the Jamestown Gazette is one of those locally-owned businesses that has been here for you every week for nearly 10 years—and planning to serve our community for many more.

A recent consumer survey asked shoppers about how the new normal—the after Covid-19 normal—will change their shopping habits. One startling result: more than 80 percent of the people will be picking up their community newspapers at nearly three times the “old normal” rate. Readers have rediscovered the value of local news from their own home town.

Gazette ads now connect online readers directly to an advertiser’s website. Ads are now at specially reduced rates and the website links are free to advertisers. This is the time for businesses to make their names better known than ever. A new wave of stored-up shopping demand is about to break. Be ready.

We’re minding our own business for you.

Enjoy the read.

Walt Pickut

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Walt Pickut’s writing career began with publishing medical research in1971 while working at the Jersey City Medical Center and the NYU Hospital and School of Medicine. Walt holds board registries in respiratory care and sleep technology as well as bachelor's degrees in biology and communication, and a master's degrees in physiology from Fairleigh-Dickinson University in New Jersey, with additional graduate work in mass communication completed at SUNY Amherst. He currently teaches Presentational Speaking in the Houghton College PACE program at JCC and holds memberships in the Society of Professional Journalists and the American Society of Business Publication Editors. He lives in Jamestown with his wife Nancy, an MSW social worker, and has three children: Dr. Cait Lamberton in Pittsburgh, Bill Pickut, a marketing executive in Chicago, and Rev. Matt Pickut in Plymouth, IN.