15 minutes to a better Alpena

Never underestimate the generosity of small town locally owned business. My husband and I recently opened our own business. It’s mostly my husbands’; but when you care about someone, that thing they care about also becomes something you care about. So now we both own a small local business.

In our journey to bring my husband’s dream to life we encountered a number of setbacks with people who didn’t pull through or were dishonest; but I don’t want to talk about that today. Today I’d like to share the positive support we have received from fellow local business owners.

When you strike out on your own there is a great deal of anxiety and fear that you must wade through to bring your ideas to fruition. Even in the best of circumstances, with a solid business model, and all the confidence in the world there are still ‘what ifs.’ Will anyone want this thing I’m creating? This is so different, what if nobody likes it? What if they don’t understand the service’s benefits? What if I can’t pay back the loans? What if I end up penniless, living in a box behind a warehouse?

I can’t say if everyone in Alpena has had a similar experience but I have to believe that there are many young entrepreneurs that have had help pulling up their bootstraps by mentors in our community. For us it started right from day 1. He was blessed with the generosity of a local spa that offered to let him use the basement space under the spa as a temporary work station until we devised a better plan. This allowed him to still see a few clients that had requested to work with him and allowed us to keep food on our table. The blessings continued when one of his clients also began to share advice and guidance gained while he was building his own business.

If it weren’t for the assistance of a local furniture and flooring company we wouldn’t have floors in part of the building. If it weren’t for the talent of two local craftsmen the building would only be half done. If it weren’t for the hard work of two young men who answered my plea for help via Facebook I would still be scrubbing 30-years’ worth of gunk off old locker room walls. If it weren’t for the patience of contractors we wouldn’t have proper electrical lighting or working ventilation. Without the countless hours of volunteer help we received with cleaning and painting, we wouldn’t be open. If it weren’t for caring and generous people who believed that it was time for them to reach down and pull someone else up, we wouldn’t be open. It literally took almost an entire community to make my husband’s business come to life.

Sure there were things that didn’t go as planned but everything works out just as it should and better things fell into place as a result. Encouragement from friends and family along the way kept us going when we were questioning our sanity. Some folks who helped or encouraged us only spent 15 minutes out of their day, but it was 15 minutes that changed our lives; which brings me to the point of this article. Imagine how many lives could be changed if each of us were willing to spend just 15 minutes to help someone else. Maybe it’s a 15 minute chat about your personal experience. Maybe it’s a 15 minute phone call you can make for someone. Maybe its 15 minutes spent introducing people who should know each other.

Where would our community be if we were all willing to spend a small amount of time each day just giving our time or talents to others? It’s really no skin off your back and it’s an easy way to build an Alpena we can all be proud of.

How will you spend your 15 minutes?

Mary Beth Stutzman’s Inspiring A-Town runs bi-weekly on Tuesdays. Follow Mary Beth on Twitter @mbstutz