Our Task Moving Forward

Moving forward and accepting new realities is the task businesses, churches, non-profits, corporations, and individuals face ahead.   The destructive path of COVID-19 is much broader than health concerns.  It hasn’t left anyone behind, and in one form or another, we will all be affected.

There is a silver lining to the devastation that has struck.  It has brought out the best in many of us, as did Hurricane Katrina, tornados, floods, 9/11, and many other disasters.  But, the problem is that once we meet the challenge, we seem to revert to pre-disaster days, and our collective memory fades.  We move on, but don’t change.

This COVID event has demonstrated many inequalities and inadequacies in our country.   We now have an opportunity to do better and be better.  We have witnessed our abilities and talents redirected to face current challenges.  We have seen communities taking responsibility for meeting the demands of caring for each other.  We have observed heroes at work and at home.

From this point on, we need to face the realities before us and deal with the challenges.  Just re-opening our businesses is not enough.  It’s not enough to shop locally. More stimulus programs and strategies are not enough.  We must re-envision our role in moving forward.

We must envision who we are as an individual, business, or organization.  What is our worth to our community?  What do we do that is essential?   How can we leverage the partnerships and common goals which formed during the crisis?  How are we relevant?

Our task is not to simply get back to normal.  Our task is to build a better normal.  What must we do to make a better community and country?  It is our responsibility to seek, learn, and commit to practices that will uplift our nation.  The process has begun.

It’s About Main Street USA

As the world starts to ask what’s going to happen when this pandemic is finally over and we can look at what it will take to jumpstart the economy again, one venture capitalist says we have to save Main Street and not bail out banks and hedge funds. Chamath Palihapitiya said in a CNBC interview that the way back requires a different perspective.

“On Main Street today, people are getting wiped out. And right now, rich CEOs are not, boards that had horrible governance are not, hedge funds are not. People are.”

You know that we spend no time here at Small Biz Survival pointing fingers or laying blame, and we’ve been here with you for years helping rural and small town businesses navigate the world, and that’s why this interview might prove interesting to you. It’s an important voice telling the nation that your business is who needs the help.

Don’t Wait for Handouts

As with all things, anything the government intends to do to help your business won’t come quickly enough for most people. It’s your job to rebuild and get your business back to thriving. Don’t wait for the handouts at all, but when they come available, don’t let your pride get in the way of filling out a few forms to get some “wiggle room” on the way to your recovery. You’ve worked hard and deserve that money more than the usual people who get bailed out.

Get to the Core Business

Over the years, maybe you’ve added and added and added to your business. Coming out of this pandemic might be a time where people will want the core of what you do more than anything else. Everyone is dealing with information overload, choice fatigue, and overall world-weary feelings. Make everything easier by offering your core service. If you do people’s taxes, offer your tax time services and monthly/quarterly bookkeeping. That’s it. Don’t get all that heavy into the other offers. Look at what makes your business important and strengthen that, keep the the “extras” and choices to a minimum.

Upgrade Your Payment Methods Now

Make it easier to accept payment from different sources, such as PayPal, Venmo, CashApp. As people struggle to make ends meet, smaller and faster money transfer technologies are used more. It’s worth your time to get your ability to be paid in multiple ways up and running faster than not. Never forget that YouTube has plenty of free videos to walk you through the setup and use of any new app you don’t yet understand. It’s a lot easier than you think (with a little guidance).

Reach Out

When times are tough, we tend to clam up and go inside. We don’t want other people to know we’re going through a bad spot. And it’s fine not to highlight that too loudly, but rest assured. The entire world is in this with you this time. Everyone out there is missing a payment here and there. People are digging into their life savings more often than they want. You’re not alone.

Reach out to your buyers. If someone hasn’t been in lately and you know how to reach them, do it. Ask if you can help. Offer different arrangements, if possible and if that helps. Don’t cut your prices. Everyone has to eat. You’re not a charity (unless you are). But connect with people and make sure they know you’re here to help. Send mail if you have their email address. Call if you’ve got a number. Keep your customer base warm.

You’re Valuable

We’ve said it all along. Small town businesses and rural companies are the backbone of what makes this nation run. Don’t wait for the cavalry. You’re the one who will save your business and you’re the one who will put this country back on its feet. Go get it.

 

By Chris Brogan

Petal Counts!

The 2020 Census is live online! I can’t stress enough how important it is to complete the census. It can be completed online or you may have received the questionnaire in the mail. IT IS NOT A SCAM!  I have seen several posts from people questioning whether they should complete the form.  YES!!!  It is absolutely confidential and it is a crime for the census bureau to divulge your information to anyone else.  The government will NOT use this information against anyone.

If you have acquaintances, friends, relatives or co-workers that are unable or afraid to complete the form, please help them and inform them of the importance of the census.  An accurate census helps ensure fair representation at all levels of government, it directly impacts the process of planning for education, infrastructure and transportation, emergency preparedness, disaster relief and resiliency protocols.

Get Counted, Petal       Link to Internet Self Response

Aliens, Flying Monkeys, and the Coronavirus

I wanted to write a post addressing the coronavirus and what we can do to help our businesses.  However, I saw this article by Charles Marshall that had a different twist which may be helpful to some.   Valerie

These are scary times and I should know because I’m no stranger to fear. When I was nine years old I watched Earth vs. the Flying Saucers on TV and it flat out scared the living bejibbers out of me.

Most of the movie wasn’t all that bad. I could handle the flying saucers zipping around the sky. I was okay with the battle with the aliens on the military base. But the part that really got me was when the group of earth people entered the saucer. When that glowing, flower-shaped communication device slowly descended from the ceiling and (spoiler alert!) drained the brains of the general and policeman, for some reason that did me in. I was afraid to look around corners for days afterward for fear of aliens jumping out of the shadows and sucking my brains out.

Not that that would have hurt me that much. If my grades back then were any indication, it might have even added a couple points to my IQ.

I had the same experience when I first saw the Wicked Witch of the West’s flying monkeys on The Wizard of Oz. Man-a-livin’, that’s scary cinema. Again, the witch herself wasn’t that bad, but you throw some wings on a few dozen monkeys, and you have yourself a real horror flick.

Fear is a relative concept, though. It depends on the individual and the age in which you live. In World War I it meant bombs, bullets, and sometimes death by mustard gas. Just after WWI, came the Spanish Flu which infected about 500 million people and killed 20 or 30 million people. Then came the Great Depression with a 25% unemployment rate. Then came World War II with more bombs and bullets, and a couple of atomic bombs thrown in to boot.

The fact of life is: scary things come along all the time in history. And relatively speaking, we’re still okay right now for the most part.

Admittedly, life has recently changed for a great number of us and many people are panicking. Grocery stores are being raided for hand sanitizer, water, and toilet paper. I’m not really sure why people are stocking up on TP, though. My guess is they’re building toilet paper fortresses and barricading themselves in.

It’s not my intention to minimize the danger of this current heath scare because it’s definitely something we all have to think about. But I have found the best defense against worry and fear is to get a plan, so I suggest the following ideas to help you in both your business and personal lives.

Don’t focus on:

  • Things you can’t control. You’ll drive yourself nuts trying to control a crazy world. It’s far better to think about what you can do rather than what you can’t.
  • Sensationalist news reports. Yes, we all need to be in the know. But staying glued to your computer or television is not healthy, mentally or physically.

Instead, focus on:

  • Improving your office systems. Now is a great time to get rid of activities, equipment, and behaviors that waste your time and money.
  • Improving your customer service. Why not take advantage of this moment and use it to add value to your business? I have several YouTube videos that you can use to achieve this goal with your staff.
  • Your health. Yes, of course, you should wash your hands and use hand sanitizer. But now is a great time to start eating right and exercising. When so much is out of control in your life, you’ll feel a lot better if you can point to at least one area that has improved.
  • Your vision. It’s a great time to think about where your want to go and how you want to spend your days on earth.

Your goal during this time is to come out stronger than when you began. I know it doesn’t look like it, but we all have been given a gift. We have a pause in our society right now that will allow us a moment to re-set, re-focus, and re-prioritize.

So turn off your TV and come on out of that toilet paper fortress. The world is still a pretty great place and you need to be part of it.

© 2020 Charles Marshall. Charles Marshall is a nationally known humorous motivational speaker and author. Visit his Web site www.CharlesMarshallSpeaker.com or contact him via e-mail at Charles@CharlesMarshallSpeaker.com

This Little Dollar

Originally published in the Mississippi Business Journal. Permission to reprint with attribution to Mississippi Business Journal and Phil Hardwick.

THIS LITTLE DOLLAR STAYED HOME

This is a tale of two dollars. One stayed at home. One went to another town.

Once upon a time there were two dollars. They each lived with their owners in the small town of Make Believe in rural Mississippi. Make Believe was a nice little town. There was a Main Street that had lots of little shops that sold special items and arts and crafts and catered to people who drove through town. There was also a grocery store. There was even a doctor in Make Believe. It was a nice little town that was enjoyed by all its residents, none of whom wanted it to change.

This story of the first dollar is easy to tell. Its owner placed it snugly in her purse and drove 45 minutes to a nearby, larger town with a shopping mall. The owner stayed all day at the mall and spent the entire dollar on things bought in stores owned by big corporations in faraway states.

Part of the first little dollar stayed in that town and part of it went to the state government, but most of it went by electronic magic to another state. At the end of the day, the owner went back to Make Believe with all her treasures. Not one penny of the first dollar ever saw Make Believe, Miss., again.

The story of the second dollar is much different. The owner of the second dollar went to a little shop in downtown Make Believe. There the owner talked a long time to the shop owner about the beautiful merchandise in the store.

The shopkeeper told all about the things that were made right there in Make Believe. There were birdhouses built by Bob, beveled glass made by Beverly, blouses of silk designed by Betty, mocha chocolates by Missy, and even silverware crafted by Sam.

This owner of the dollar spent the entire dollar right there in the shop. The journey of the second dollar was much different from that of the first dollar. Yes, the first 7 cents arrived at the government in Jackson. One penny was sent back to the local town. So one penny of the sales tax came back to the Make Believe City Hall.

The owner of the shop took the next 50 cents and sent it to the manufacturers of the items that were bought. Because all of them lived right there in Make Believe, the 50 cents stayed there.

The next 16 cents went to the employee of the shop owner. Yes, you guessed it; the employee lived in Make Believe.

There was rent to pay on the shopkeeper’s retail space. It was paid to the owner of the building, who had lived in Make Believe all his life. The rent was 10 cents of the dollar.

There were operating expenses that the shopkeeper had to pay. Things such as utilities and maintenance and insurance. Sixteen cents of the dollar went to pay those expenses and some of the people that got paid lived in another town far away. Still, eight of those 16 cents was paid to people in Make Believe.

That left 8 cents. What would happen to it?

That’s right. Eight cents was the shopkeeper’s profit she got to keep. Of course, the shopkeeper lived in an apartment upstairs above the shop.

If we total where the second dollar went, we learn about 86 cents stayed in Make Believe.

I wonder what will happen to the 86 cents. Will the manufacturer, the employee, the real estate owner, the shopkeeper and the others spend the 86 cents in Make Believe? Or will they go somewhere else?

I wonder how much of the 86 cents will be spent in Make Believe. Because every time another penny is spent in Make Believe, the little town is better off because someone in Make Believe received it instead of another town.

Each person has a right to spend his or her money wherever and whenever he or she wishes. But when people spend their dollars in other towns, it does not help the economy of their hometowns.

The Tale of Two Dollars is told at this time every year because many people don’t know when they spend their money in their own hometown it helps their hometown.

You Asked, We Deliver

There have been numerous strategic planning sessions over the years in which the goal was to determine how to make Petal a better place to live and do business.  Scores of individuals have devoted time and energy into these discussions and many ixmprovements have been made.  Strategic planning is ongoing and ever evolving with new issues arising and old issues remaining to be solved.

One item that has been a constant on the list of “we would like” is more family friendly activities for our residents.  Often, the comparison is made that our next door neighbor, Hattiesburg, has Live at Five, Art Walks and the Brown Bag Lunch Series.  Why can’t we have some of those type of events?  Well, we can!

The Petal Area Chamber of Commerce is hosting the first Downtown FAM Jam (Food, Art, Music & FAMily friendly)  on Friday, November 15 from 5:00-8:00 at Wilson Square Park (newly named for the beautiful green space shaded by towering oaks behind Petal Family Dentistry on S. Main Street)  The event will feature live music, food vendors, arts & crafts and art activities for the kids.  Bring a lawn chair or blanket and enjoy the evening with friends.

Depending on the support and response to the Downtown FAM Jam, this could grow to be an annual event, quarterly event or monthly event.  It’s up to you!  See you there.

Keep it Local!

 Imagine Petal without any of its small, local businesses. Restaurants, hair and nail salons, corner stores, spas, boutique clothing stores, repair shops, laundromats, hardware stores, gift shops, gas stations, and more – all gone.

What would be left? What would the streets look like? Desolate, depressing, empty, boring, abandoned… like a regular day on the zombie apocalypse TV show, The Walking Dead?

Just how much of a presence and impact do small businesses have on our communities? The Small Business Administration (SBA) reports 28 million small businesses operating in the U.S. alone. And since 1995, those small businesses have generated 66% of all new jobs in the United States. Small businesses are a big deal.

This brings us to the upcoming shopping season of Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Our merchants are here to help you and make you shopping experience pleasant. More importantly, you are helping to support our local economy and your neighbors. Just think of the hundreds of students that have an opportunity to work because of our merchants. There is not one Amazon job available in Petal. Think about who you want to support before you one-click shop.

 

Break Your Routine!

Anyone that has driven the Evelyn Gandy Parkway to the intersection on I-59 has seen the incredible developments. Plus, we will soon be experiencing changes on East Hardy to South Main Street. Join us on Wednesday, October 9, as we hear from our Southern Transportation Commissioner about these new developments and what they will mean for Petal. The luncheon will be at the Petal Civic Center from 12;00-1:00 pm

Most importantly, joining us at a Lunch and Learn offers you a break from the routine. Professional networking events are not an everyday occurrence in most people’s lives. Typically, they represent a break from your routine, which can be powerful in its own right. By stepping away from the day-to-day, you may find the change of scenery refreshing. Plus, your exposure to different professionals and the presence of learning opportunities may spark your creativity, helping you to innovate and solve problems that previously plagued you.

The opportunity to meet with like- minded business professionals is a perk to your chamber membership. Please take advantage of it and bring an associate to learn about what is happening in our city.

WOW! IT WAS STUNNING!

I can’t say enough about the success of our Star Spangled Celebration on the River.  The weather was perfect, the vendors were wonderful, the music was super, the crowd was huge and the fireworks were stunning.  Most of all, we had a great time.  The estimate is that there were between 4,000 – 5,000 at the Petal River Park.  We were hoping for 1,500.  This event was a year in the planning.  It was a pleasure to work with our friends across the river in Hattiesburg.  Kudos to the city of Hattiesburg, the city of Petal, and Forrest County for providing the resources necessary to make this a family friendly, safe event for everyone.  The support from VisitHattiesburg and the ADP was invaluable. And I can’t leave out my great friend, Andrea Saffle, director of the Historic Hattiesburg Downtown Association for her enthusiasm, experience and great humor.

If I learned anything, it is that our community loves to get together and celebrate with each other. It’s heartwarming to see kids playing and families listening music while enjoying good ole fair food.  We need more of this!  But, there is the reality that it costs a lot of money and requires a lot of planning and a hoard of volunteers.  Please support and thank our sponsors who made this possible.  Here is a list.  They all deserve a big pat on the back and your loyalty.

Coca-Cola of Hattiesburg, The First, IHeart Radio, Grove Transit, Gulfsouth Productions, Visit Hattiesburg, Party Box Rentals, Fairley Construction, Dandy Dan’s Smith Petroleum, Mississippi Power, Bourne Brothers, Chick Fil A, Signs First, Keith’s Superstores, Grand Bank, Magnolia State Bank, Trustmark Bank, Central Sunbelt FCU, Carter’s Jewelers, American Graphics, A-1 Grapics, Puckett Rents, Hancock Whitney Bank, Taylor Rental, Stokes Distributing and Southern Beverage.

The volunteers were the heart of this event.  I know that I will leave someone out, but I will attempt to list all of the fabulous groups that gave up their opportunity to relax and enjoy the evening.  Thank you to the Cosmopolitan Club of Petal, the Petal Jaycees, the Petal High School Ambassadors, The 177th Armored Division of Camp Shelby, Dick Pryzbelski, David Ruffin, Zach Vaughn, David Bassett, many individuals and the board of directors of the Petal Area Chamber of Commerce.

As we plan for next year, please consider being a part of the event as a sponsor or volunteer.  It takes all of us!

 

STAR SPANGLED CELEBRATION ON THE RIVER

We are in the final stages of planning for the “Star Spangled Celebration on the River by Coca-Cola.” This seeds of this project started in July of 2017 during a discussion with Andrea Saffle, director of the Historic Hattiesburg Downtown Association. Andrea and I (Valerie) were considering events that we could sponsor together to promote our cities and our organizations in a mutually beneficial way. “FIREWORKS!” Everyone loves fireworks! And so it began.

This event has taken on a life of its own. Thanks to our generous sponsors, Coca-Cola, The First, City of Petal, City of Hattiesburg and Forrest County Board of Supervisors we were able to launch the event and reach out to additional sponsors. On Tuesday, July 3 from 5:00-10:00 pm there will be live music, food vendors, kid’s inflatables, and more at the Petal River Park and Hattiesburg’s Chain Park, culminating in a grand fireworks display at 9:00.

Here are some practical suggestions to make your evening more enjoyable. There will be secure parking on the Petal side of the river at the old fairgrounds location for $5.00 (cash only) per vehicle. This will be the closest location to the event for parking. It may fill up quickly. It would be great if area churches would use their small buses to transport groups from the church parking lot to the park.

It will be HOT. There’s no way around it. Dress appropriately and don’t forget the sunscreen. The Petal River Park is on the river in the Deep South… there will be mosquitoes! Bring repellant if you want to ward off the nasty critters. Ice chests are allowed, however, it may be difficult to carry them from parking locations. We will have lots of food and beverage vendors in the park to handle your hunger and thirst! Small tents are acceptable but they will need to be taken down prior to the fireworks in order to allow great viewing for all guests. Lawn chairs and blankets are allowed and encouraged.

The Petal side of the river will be alcohol free. The Hattiesburg side will be selling beer. If that makes a difference, choose your side accordingly.

Most importantly, for this event to grow and become an annual tradition, we need to support it! Please support the sponsors and thank them! Support the vendors so they will come back. Support the volunteers, police, firefighters, and city personnel that are critical for success. Spread the word and enjoy the fireworks!