I’ve got a big soft spot in my otherwise-hardened heart for a few select things. Puppies. Young children frolicking in a meadow. And entrepreneurs.Everyone understands the first two. But why entrepreneurs? Because they are the ones who had the courage to stand up alone amid the madding crowd and declare that they are good enough and smart enough to walk away from it all to start a business and finally do what they were put on this earth to do. And do it the way they want to do it.
Maybe that’s why I couldn’t help but reread our Black Entrepreneurs Month sections that the Business Journal published in February. We ran short profiles of more than 20 local Black entrepreneurs over two issues in the month. Many of them gave thoughtful answers about what compelled them to go out on their own and, indeed, on the nature of entrepreneurship. Much of it was inspired and touched that soft spot.Take Richard Herron, for example. He started a home-improvement company called Construction Concern in Newhall in 1983, which since has grown to 12 employees. Earlier, he tried working in a big company and discovered he just wasn’t comfortable. Despite the forces holding him back – he had three young children depending on him – he felt compelled to go it alone.Some moments were difficult, sure. But he said that the chance to be an entrepreneur is one of the greatest privileges this country has to offer. He just couldn’t let that privilege lapse. “To be your own leader, forge your own way and be judged by your accomplishments is a true measure of who you are,” Herron said.John Grace, who owns Investor’s Advantage, a personal financial planning firm in Westlake Village, agreed that many people feel the call of entrepreneurship but don’t act on it.
“I think we all came here knowing exactly what we are here to do. Then we forgot and we spend the rest of our lives either searching for it or marking time,” Grace said.We published Black Entrepreneurs Month to make sure that the Black business builders among us were included in our Community of Business. But it was also a great reminder that entrepreneurship runs deep in many people, regardless of color or gender or geography or anything else.
If you read – or reread – any of those profiles, you may find you too have a soft spot for the brave few who took their own path. And if you missed it, watch for Black Entrepreneurs Month next year.• • • An interesting article in the New York Times a week or so ago posited that small businesses in California are among the big drivers of the effort to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom.After all, small, sit-down restaurants have been disproportionately hurt by the state’s lockdowns while big fast-food chain restaurants have largely remained open, at least for drive-through and takeout. Likewise, big box retailers have mostly remained open and even prospered through the lockdowns while boutiques had to close.
One owner of a seafood restaurant chain said local restaurants could not have diners sit outside in the first lockdown, even six feet apart and with plexiglass between them, but a Burger King inside the nearby Walmart remained open.
The story, which quoted several Valley business owners, said nearly 40,000 small businesses had closed in the state by September – more than in any other state since the pandemic began. Half of those had shut permanently, far more than the 6,400 that had closed permanently in New York.Randy Economy, a spokesman for the Recall Gavin Newsom campaign, was quoted as saying small-business owners in the state were among the big supporters of the campaign.“He’s broken the back of small-business owners and put many of them out of business for the rest of their lives,” Economy said.It’s true that small businesses in the state have been a casualty of the confusing and often grossly unfair lockdown protocols. So, it’s not a surprise that someone – in this case, Newsom – must face the blowback.Charles Crumpley is publisher of the Business Journal.
He can be reached at email@example.com.