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Tuesday, August 05, 2014


Steve Cole's thoughts on small business America.

1. Almost every Friday, Steven Petrick and I eat at Blue Front, a nearby restaurant which has a BBQ special that day. (The girls eat somewhere else on Friday.) I make it a point to collect coins from change all week so I can pay the bill ($8.71) in coins because Billy (the owner) always says she is short of coins. She appreciates the small favor. (It's relatively meaningless; she goes to the bank regularly and could get all the coins she wants, but perhaps I delay a bank trip by a day.)

2. Across the road from the Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary is the Candy Kitchen Trading Post. (Technically, the area including the trading post and WSWS is the "town" of Candy Kitchen, but the town has no mayor or services.) Several hundred people live in a few square miles of mountain meadows, mostly on a network of unpaved roads. These are people who want to live "off the grid" in this remote "back of the moon" location. Many of them grow vegetables or raise small animals and more than a few are retired people, or survivalists waiting for some apocalypse or other. Frank Blackmoon started the trading a few years ago because the nearest hardware store is over 50 miles away and people who live in cabins in such a remote area are always doing repairs and need nails, lumber, tools, etc. Frank remarked that when it's cold people cut up trees for firewood, and if your chainsaw chain breaks, you face either a long drive (not always possible when it snows) or a cold night. He carries a few groceries but also has a tiny restaurant (burgers, pizza, breakfast) which became the "local place where everybody knows everybody's name." My hat's off for Frank Blackmoon, who exemplifies the best of Small Business America. He saw a need and he started a business to fill that need. He also opened a small bed and breakfast about 50 yards up the hill. There are always people coming into the area for a night or two to see the wolves, visit relatives, or look for home sites for sale.

3. Every now and then you need to look at everything you do and find a better, faster, cheaper way to do it, or at least one that moves the job to a less-valuable team member. But the first step of that process is to ask yourself: "Do we really need to be doing this at all?"

4. Sometimes you need to take a moment to admire your own work. Somehow, reading something you wrote or edited just to enjoy your own work will find a mistake that proofreading it six times did not find. I think it's because your mind is relaxed and not looking for problems.