I have learned more in the entrepreneurial trench than I have in 10 years of classrooms and degrees. I am overjoyed when I am fortunate enough to connect with other entrepreneurial women. This extraordinary league of sisterhood has shown me that we share so many of the same emotions, experiences, fears, and successes. So when I was given the topic to write about shopping locally, I knew exactly what I was going to write.
It’s 10:46 at night.
She sits at her computer. It’s been a long day. Believing in yourself is not easy. She has to enter receipts, she has to return fourteen emails, and she has to update her website. She is tired, so much so that she can’t remember the last time she didn’t multitask her to-do list while she was sleeping. But she would choose this volume of exhaustion every day. She has her business, her baby. She is working her dream.
Another woman plays on her phone. It’s been a long day. Believing in yourself is not easy. She has to email the teacher that forgot to enter her child’s test grade that will pull it up from the ditch. And then she has to plan the younger one’s birthday party. She forgot to return the library books again. She has a nagging health concern that she doesn’t have time to address. If she just had an eighth day, maybe her hectic schedule wouldn’t be so bad.
The second woman did business with the first woman earlier that day, just like many neighbors do. After all, it’s a locally owned and well-respected business. The entrepreneur is grateful for their support, earning her business on a smile-by-smile, transaction-by-transaction basis. And when these women met earlier today, it was one more opportunity to earn a neighbor’s trust.
But something happened. The second woman felt inconvenienced, frustrated, and disrespected by the actions of the first woman, or maybe her employee. Personalities were off, stars misaligned. Maybe it was the undercurrent of stress, family, money, traffic, or just the inevitable combustibility of life that fueled the conflict. But it happened. And all of those initial hopes about earning a new client’s favor suddenly disappeared.
It didn’t seem too bad when they were face to face. The entrepreneur certainly hates when people are unhappy and especially hates confrontation. She considers calling to apologize once again. No one yelled or anything, but still, to make peace with her neighbor. She already apologized to the other woman in person. She thinks it’s over.
But it isn’t.
It’s now 11:15. She sees the notification on her phone. Someone has tagged her business. She reads the soul-crushing criticism, words that slam her dream into shards of glass. The words, so cruelly exaggerated, choke her like acid. There’s not a five-star review that can console her in these moments. The only opinion that matters right now is the one that just publicly announced her personal vexation to 17,342 followers on a widely read community page. The entrepreneur is thrust into defense while her dream cowers in the corner. There will be no sleep tonight because 17,342 people were told it was futile to affirm or support her business, her dream.
Let’s commit to shopping locally and celebrating our dreamers. It’s one of the most significant ways to beautify the community. We should eagerly go, bringing our presence, our resources, and our positive reviews. We all have the power to greatly encourage the dreamer to do better, to grow, and to be the best that they can be for their beloved clients.
And when concerns arise, privately sharing them with the owner shows utter dignity and class. Our words have the power to build a community of affirmation and encouragement, with this unshakeable sisterhood of collective success.
Be the good neighbor, discover what’s awesome, and then shout out only the good.