Editor's note: Jessica Ann is a restaurant owner who's blogging about trying to rebound from the coronavirus pandemic at My Rebound by FOX 17. She founded The Candied Yam, a Grand Rapids restaurant serving Southern cuisine, in 2016. She is married with a daughter who just graduated high school and an adult son. She lives in Kentwood.
I have heard conversations where some individuals feel that the business owners should give "more."
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No, not more time investing in building solid community. No, not hiring more people so that they can take care of their families. MORE money, MORE food donations and MORE product donations.
They feel that a business owner who is making a profit should pay ‘more than others’, but I do not subscribe to that. I believe that an entrepreneur makes ALL the investments. We have the ideas, make all the risks. We spend our savings or we secure the loans that have to be paid back. There is no big money tree planted in the backyard. Many of us are choosing to spend time investing in the biz and that means sacrificing. Many of us have someone else waiting for us at home. A missed opportunity to spend time with family or friends. But we get it. We must finish the day out strong. Sometimes our tasks means that our days turn into nights. Cold dinners or missed dance recitals. Not only for our investments but to make sure things will be right for those who we work with and that they can be compensated for the time and hours they put in to help realize our dreams. We hire tax accounts and payroll specialist even though we go back over the numbers just to make sure payroll can be met week to week. There are countless of times that I am counting out the money and everybody gets paid - but me. I am just happy to pay the team and the bills. Well, not as happy about the bills but it takes money to make money so therefore I master my obligations because if I work hard enough or do things the way I need to I will reap rewards and benefits - eventually. I hope.
So, when us entrepreneurs do make a profit why must we give it all away? When you get your paycheck why don’t you give it ALL away? We both worked hard. You saved and spent your money the way you wanted to. Just like us.
Yet you can spend it all and not give anyone a dime but you count our money and look to see what and to whom we give it to. If it does not please you - now you are mad.
Entrepreneurs should be able to make as much as he or she wants to EARN because they have all the risks. The individuals who decide to work for a company do so because they are not the entrepreneur. They do not want to assume risks. They want to step into an already solid structure and help handle the business but be compensated with fair wages. They want to work for a company that is winning because they know that if the company loses they don’t have a job to support themselves or their family.
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So how is it that the entrepreneur gets the backlash? If we make a profit we have to give it to people who are less fortunate? Ok. I personally can go along with that. That pleases me. But less fortunate means, in my mind, that they don’t have access to the same opportunities and by me giving, they will have a different experience that may help them see life and realize different opportunities.
Last fortunate does not mean someone who is sitting at home collecting a check because they don’t want to work.
True story. I was at D&W Market on Breton. I was fussing about what I wanted on my hand made pizza. I kept changing my mind because that day I just didn’t know if I felt like pepperoni or if I felt like pineapples. I happened to look down and the woman that was helping me only had one arm. In that moment, I felt really really bad. She has one arm and one hand with five fingers and I’m giving her the task of someone who has two arms. When I saw her with one hand operating, I apologized. She gave me a very good lesson. She told me that she has been working there for 20+ years and that I did not need to apologize. I only needed to tell her what I wanted on my pizza. She inspired me! She told me that she had been married with children for many years and recently her husband had died. She also told me that she was very independent and the only challenge she has is tying her shoes. Oh by the way, she is also a motorcycle babe. This is a bad ass chick and she makes a mean pizza.
Now I will say that I believe and think it is always nice to give back because we exist because of our customers and in their interest, it is nice to be able to do things for them. It’s what I do, but might not suit another business owners personality. And, we all should be good with that as well. At The Candied Yam, we get request ALL THE TIME. I use to try to keep up with the demand, but it’s impossible. Many people have needs and frankly people are going to talk about me if I do and they’re going to talk about me if I don’t. So I find or create the opportunities that make the most sense for us. A customer that asked for a donation and needs it in 30 days will probably get a hard no because I’m still working on recouping from the donation from the customer who asked 60 days 90 days even 120 days ago. It is also a known fact that small businesses make up community and it takes all types. Many of us business owners are philanthropist and help to erect some of the best things that help a community, like a hospital or a youth center or educational scholarships. Those things may not exist without business owners who care and spend their monies investing in community.