Ali Brown | Blog

“Why the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ Mentality is Threatening to Small Business Owners Everywhere” by Ali Brown

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Listen, it’s good when people shake things up. It gets us all to stop, think, and question what we’ve always accepted. And that’s what Occupy Wall Street has surely done for all of us.

It seems the biggest issue the protestors have relates to corporate favoritism that was so visible during the bail-outs. I would wholeheartedly AGREE in disgust. That IS worth protesting for.

There are archaic business models that just don’t work anymore. They have erupted to the surface to be dealt with, and it’s going to be messy. And it will take quite a while for healthy, new models to emerge into center stage.

With unemployment now projected to be over 8% for the next several years by the Congressional Budget Office, it’s a scary time for many who were simply going along with the status quo of having a job as their security system. They feel duped.

I applaud the OWS people’s dedication to their cause, and it’s getting some attention at how messed up things are in the economy.

What’s scary to me as a business owner is the rampant anti-capitalism and “eat the rich” mentality that is pervading the movement.

I agree there is a lot of waste and excess out there. And it needs to be addressed.

But you can’t demonize all business, capitalism, and money… and then also say, “Give us jobs.”

People want jobs to make money.

Businesses create jobs.

And the businesses that are successful (the ones that create jobs) are run by… “rich people”.

At least that’s the definition that’s been assigned the top 1%, who, by the way, aren’t all the “ultra-wealthy” as many imagine.

The latest report from the National Taxpayers Union states that the top 1% earners in the U.S. includes everyone making over $380,354 a year.

Interestingly, this cutoff is typically what I see as the breakthrough level of for most small businesses owners. When they enter this net income bracket, it also typically signifies they are starting to make real strides in growing their companies, creating more jobs to be filled, and hiring more employees.

OWS has revealed in a huge way the gross misconceptions about how business works and even where jobs and money come from.

The majority of millionaires in this country are people who have created their own incomes. They aren’t what most people imagine— the “fat cat” bankers riding around in limos collecting their bonus checks and passing the Grey Poupon.

These millionaires did not have any money handed to them by their relatives, and they didn’t win the lottery. Many started with nothing. They took risks, launched businesses, invested in real estate, made many sacrifices, won some and lost some, and put their asses on the line to create a better life for themselves and their families.

I’m one of them.

And in the process we grew companies… that then hired people… and created jobs… and stimulated the economy. And many of us give back in other ways to causes, charities, and so forth.

Recessions happen when people stop growing, stop expanding, stop hiring, stop spending, and stop circulating money.

If we keep demonizing all those who make money, then no one will make money.

So here’s the rub, no matter WHAT your point of view is…

I know many things suck right now for a lot of people. But you can’t wait for things to change, or even ask for things to change. Protesting is a start, but you’ve got to MAKE the change.

Think about it: Why would you ask the same administration that helped create these problems to be the one to solve them? It’s up to us.

Because I’m on a mission to help more people become entrepreneurs, I’d suggest protesters make better use of their time by joining the reported 9 percent of the laid-off who’ve decided to start a business of their own.

(Yes you, in the park, marching with the signs. I see you in those crowds… with laptops and cellphones. With all the time you’ve been spending down there, you could have started a business by now!)

Starting a business would not only support YOU, but it would support your cause. Small businesses give more power to more people, instead of concentrating all the power in the hands of a few.

And if you don’t want to start a small business, then at least make an effort to buy from more small businesses.

My story: Twelve years ago, I wasn’t happy with my choices in the traditional corporate world. I saw the lack of opportunity, and I was unemployed not once but twice in a 5-year span. So I said “enough is enough”, but I didn’t whine, complain, or blame the system or the government. I took action for myself.

Eventually, after one last unfulfilling job, I decided to stop risking being un-employed and step into being self-employed.

I was broke. And I had no business training. But I figured it out, day by day. I took a skill I’d learned at my last job and then turned that into a service-based business. I had no business training and no money, but I hit the pavement and knocked on doors and went to the library and learned all I could.

Entrepreneurship is not for everyone. No question you’ve got to want it. But the good news is there are so many opportunities available now with the Internet, being able to work at home, and with free marketing tools like social media. The barriers to entry are incredibly lower than they used to be, and there are many different solutions to generating a full-time income.

I took risks, and I was uncomfortable for a while in order to create a comfortable future for myself. It was all worth it. Today I’m also more able to help out my family and many charities and causes I want to contribute to. And that feels great!

And now I’m such a fan of entrepreneurship that I’ve devoted my entire business to help more women start and grow businesses of their own.

It’s encouraging to see that women-owned startups are at a 15-year high, and I’m seeing a greater response than ever before to my women’s entrepreneur conference, SHINE, happening this November.

Disclaimer: I’m not registered with any particular political party. I’m not a conservative or a liberal. I’m kind of a tree-hugging, free-loving capitalist.

I think for myself. I take responsibility for myself. I love running a wildly profitable business. And I love helping others and giving back too. I think the time has come to realize it can all go together.

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So, that’s my bit. What’s YOUR take on all of the Occupy Wall Street happenings and how it relates to small business? Please join in the discussion below…

Yes!

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