The Experts | Small Business
We need a secret handshake
By Dick Olenych, Inside Business - Hampton Roads - 2/1/2010
When I was in college, I owned a motorcycle. I guess this was in 1980 or '81. It was a little bike. Not quite a tricycle, it did have an engine.
And it was street-legal. I believe it was a short-stroke, three-cylinder Kawasaki. Was it a 300 or maybe a bit bigger? Boy was it quick, though.
But on the long runs it made my eyeballs rattle. Honestly, they called me "Blinky" after a road trip.
Otis, a buddy of mine, had a "hog." It was big. It was loud. It had a lot of chrome.
One time we drove it through the open front door of the bar I was working at. It seemed like a good idea at the time.
One of the things I really liked about riding a bike was that every biker waved to the other bikers.
It's an unspoken code of sorts.
It was cool.
Even though I was a pipsqueak on my little missile, I got the proverbial wave, nod or chin jut.
We all did it back then. We acknowledged one another because we were of the same mindset.
Today, almost 30 years later, I still do the same thing. No, I don't have a bike... my wife would kill me if I ever got in an accident on one of those things.
You see, I believe in small businesses.
What I'm talking about is very simple.
I would like to acknowledge people of my same business mindset as me, people who have worked and toiled untold hours to keep their companies going.
The facts are pretty clear: Small businesses are a major contributor to our economy.
They, or rather, we constitute close to 60 percent of the overall economy.
That's trillions of dollars even without stimulus money.
We employ close to 70 percent of the workforce.
So why don't we have a secret wave or a secret handshake? You know, one owner to the next.
I'm thinking of a secret handshake or maybe a gesture... just like in "The Sting."
I could tug at my ear. Or, maybe I could be like a third-base coach to the batter, doing all those signals. Nah, that's way too complicated.
Let me be a little self-serving here.
I am an owner of a printing company in Virginia Beach, and if another small business owner comes into my company, I will find time for them.
If they contact me and they are local, I will give them a chance at my business.
What is so wrong with giving the little guy a chance at your business? Not a guarantee, just an opportunity.
We are dedicated women and men who put our hearts and souls into our shops, stores, companies and corporations.
We are the ones who get in early and get home late. We work weekends. We work holidays. We work every day for our customers, our companies and our employees.
We don't capture the headlines, and we don't get bailouts. There are no TARPS covering my company.
Hey, maybe we should greet our customers with a secret handshake or a unique wave, too.
Nah, I don't think I can do that. I'd have to give up the hugs and laughter. You can always go to those high-polished chrome stores and get animated service, if you like. Do yourself a favor: Ride over to a small business today and get to know them.
Dick Olenych is the president of Spectrum Printing and the author of the business novel "Joe Sails." He is a member of the Virginia Chapter of the National Speakers Association. He can be reached at email@example.com.