If the local business climate were a zombie apocalypse...

Anonymous
Jan 31, 2013

The following is a quote from 2009's comedy-horror movie "Zombieland" between the two main male protagonists:

"Columbus: You know there's a place untouched by all this crap?

Tallahassee: Back east, yeah?

Columbus: Yeah. Yeah. You heard the same thing?

Tallahassee: Out west, we hear it's back east. Back east, they hear it's out west. It's all just nonsense..."

Fortunately for us there is no actual zombie outbreak currently going on, but yet is there not a sense of basic survival we are in every day? If not personally, as a business owner small or otherwise? We see the fallen around us, bodily husks or storefronts as this allegory compares. Or we see the animated remains of those supported by artificial means and recognize their unnatural state but perhaps feel sadness for them. Or even anger that while not living why is it that THEY can exist without a care in the world but I, a living survivor, must scrape and suffer just to get by every day.

Fans of survival horror entertainment can easily recognize these feelings as they manifest in the characters they read about or play in games. But they are very real and very visceral parts of our mentality and sentimentality.  Loss, hopelessness, "why even try?" all ring though our being like a clarion call. As a business owner I have had many sleepless nights of worry, tears, and fear for the future of myself and the very world (well, community, but again this is a comparison) I live in. The zombies pounding at the door.

But we are not zombies by nature, we are humans. Survivors. We must be made into zombies by default, not the other way around. Like all you may have heard, read about, played, or seen in a movie or on TV, you can't survive it alone. But not in the sense that there is that haven "out east" that can do it for you. We have to survive together. Usually in a group you see the roles fall into a few categories: the grizzled vet, the brash youth, the doting nurse, the average Joe, the overweight businessman. While of vastly different backgrounds they each strive to survive in the world of darkness around them, lending their wits and talents to the challenges that arise. What happens to the loner? Yeah, usually he's the one that gets (to keep it PG) "defeated."

Staying to the story we are weaving together, we as survivors can't just wait around for rescue. The government we all hope is around will just in time send in troops to quell the shuffling tides, and in some cases it does! But it is a leviathan, slow moving and momentous. Often the proverbial soldiers traipse through long after the last living human fled or turned. Then, perhaps as a loner, if you among thousands and thousands scraped by you could be taken "out west." Would you rather be (we'll use Sandusky's population as an example) 1/26,000 or 10/10 as a dedicated group?

If you like the latter choice, we need to get busy walking ourselves. Fortunately for those who aspire to survive as a business, I've come back from scouting the next hill and have the first few goals for you:

1. There's a group of living that know a lot about "basic survival" as well as general info on the threats we'll face, undead or not. Some of them work for the government so may be able to call in help or supplies. It is called the Small Business Development Center. Additionally there is the Erie County Economic Development Corporation which has the RISE program. I can personally attest having seen these groups in action that they are worth the visit.

2. There are two main survivor support groups, in a way they are rather trustful mercenaries you can "hire" for your group to help get you out east or west. The first is the Erie County Chamber of Commerce. They'll help equip you and give you tools to stay alive. The next is the Sandusky Main Street Association, they will provide you scouting services and maps of the area you are in to make this go from a "Zombieland" to a "Livingland." I can't give you personal advice regarding either unit just yet as I have yet to join.

3. Find other survivors of the zombie outbreak! They are out there, somewhere, and like you want to get through another night. Band together, share your skills or resources if you have any to give or share. Nothing will beat face to face, but if you use Facebook or a website you absolutely must keep it updated and relevant because even then you will be fortunate to get one response to a post sent to 900 people! That last one is personal experience, I can say marketing is tough especially when you are trying to do everything else for your shop.

Please be sure, even if you are an established business, to explore these options! The more of us who participate, the stronger our group of survivors become.

https://www.ohiosbdc.org/

http://www.eriecountydev.com/

http://www.eriecountychamber.com/

http://sanduskymainstreet.org/

Comments

MrSandusky

Wow, finally a blog that is written with some intelligence. Great job, but I do have one question. If you had it to do all over again, would you start your own business of take the easier road and work for someone else?

Also, it would be interesting to see a discussion on how a small business owner saves and plans for retirement.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

Thank you, I may need some polish here and there on the presentation but I appreciate your compliment. It will come with time, though. To answer your question I...erm...well it is hard to say. I honestly want to give two thumbs up and say YEAH SELF-EMPLOYMENT but it is rough. The story of how I even got into this position is interesting in and of itself and will probably be a future blog entry. Or if you want to hear it in person you are welcome to stop in. But enough dallying about the answer. I would do this again if I know now what I should have back then. There are so many hidden (non-monetary in most cases, unfortunately) resources to tap into for info and guidance. That way you aren't doing it alone and uninformed and throwing years and years of savings away.

Just between you and me, Mr. Sandusky, I've dabbled with the idea of getting a part-time job on the side to supplement things. So far I've held back and continued to man the helm here. Lately the thought of getting an MBA has come to mind too. We'll see.

As for retirement, that will have to be a future discussion as...well...I haven't quite gotten to that point yet and (start a hint of sarcasm not directed at you), despite what you hear from some public/private talking heads on TV, money nor the economy isn't blooming everywhere. It is made to sound at times that banks (most likely enabled by this bill or that) are just like those "crazy" car salesmen with waving-arm inflatables just giving away the cash because they are overstocked. All 2012 notes must go! Just visit their branch "out east", or for your convenience their new one "out west".

Oh to dream... (end sarcasm). But I can't get discouraged about it and so far it hasn't stopped me. While it would be cool to wish for funds from a bank, grant, or loan right now, short of an angel investor I think my other hand will - to paraphrase a certain saying - fill up faster in the short term haha! But that is what this blog is all about is giving that "from the trenches" point of view as best I can while sharing the knowledge I have earned to help other current or future aspiring business owners.

Licorice Schtick

Mr. Sandusky, I too appreciate the intelligence of LFG, and this will be my new favorite blog. (Jackson is in the doghouse.)

Matt, I especially love the metaphors and symbolism that make reading you like dreaming or watching anime.

But your sentences tend toward long and complex, so readability is a challenge. Extraneous commas are bad, but don't be afraid of them:

"I can personally attest having seen
these groups in action that they
are worth the visit."

Improved:

"I can personally attest, having seen
these groups in action, that they
are worth the visit."

Better:

"I can personally attest that they
are worth the visit."

Betterer:

"They are worth the visit."

Best:

"Visit them."

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

Every bit helps, thanks for the suggestions! This is very much a journey that I am on but want to take others with me. That said like any classic novel or RPG, we will only get better over time and with more "experience points". I hope to continue to inform and stoke your imagination as I convey each message.

J. Hartman

Nice job Mr. Morgan! Two for two with both being home-runs! Again, nice job! S.M.I.L.E.

2cents

(Small Business Development Center)
I remember these guys, 30 years ago when I was starting a company and wanting to borrow $$ to build a plant they took me aside, closed the door and said, we can get you a loan in two weeks if you put the company in your wives name or change your skin color. Oops! single white guy back then, the real minority, sorry guy!

Unabasho

Fortunate ingrate
Begrudging those we have helped
How you have suffered!

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

As I have been encouraged to tell it like it is regarding business I will say that I have observed there are many programs who have funds set aside for (among others) women, veterans, and various minorities. I believe one example I remember looking at before passing over had half of all available funds set aside for applicants like those above.

I am saying all this in a neutral, reporting manner by the by as I being a modern human being harbor no ill will toward someone just for what they do/n't have between their legs or covering their body. But going back to those programs, while well-intended I'm sure, they actually can encourage deception and abuse as wives or any kind of third party will apply and then just hand control over to whomever was standing behind. There are similar "legal workarounds" regarding Small Business Administration loans to established companies like hotel chains since each one is technically its own mini-corporation. So I would be competing, let's say for general example, against Holiday Inn for funds. But since it isn't "Holiday Inn" applying and rather "Smalltown XYZ LLC" they qualify. Again, this isn't supposed to be begrudging franchisees or the like who may do this but I just want to illustrate that the pools, classifications, or intentions of these programs are perhaps a bit skewed or in need of reform, redefinition, and explained.

While it does make me emotionally grumbly...let's face it I am always in a competitive mode to survive...I have to set emotion aside and abide by the rules that are in play (working to perhaps influence a change in them in the future). Far too often we do see what happens to those who get caught skirting and manipulating. Even if it is "technically legal" the morality and public perception of that business can be quite damaging. I will tell you though the temptation to "workaround" is great but I hope for a moral victory to accompany a financial victory for my business.

That is what scares me about applying for public loans, but I don't want to discuss that here as that is going to be a blog entry in and of itself and I need some figures to help support my opinions/observations. Plus I've probably meandered enough in this reply for a while.

TL;DR: Yes, policies as written allow for different pools of applicants to apply for segregated funds under the same institution. Well-intentioned? Most likely. Abusable? Most certainly.

luvblues2

Have you ever played Othello, HZ? No kings, no captains, even catching a corner or sideline spot does not guarantee the outcome? Don't stop now, bud..run with it.
Most everyone who thinks gaming, as in final results, come down from antiquity as in Chess, Chinese Checkers or a deck of cards.. Things can go way beyond that form of thinking. Video games give excitement and addiction, but no way to think strategically other than find a way to beat the game with algorithms. It takes spontaneity to kick ass.

luvblues2

I learned at a young age, "if one can make it work, another can figure it out and make it better...we all run out of time." Frip, dude...make yourself run back to the mentality of MouseTrap or Candyland boardgames on occasion. Can't keep an audience if you are all high and mighty in speak.