Ah, the trials and tribulations of starting a small business in America these days. It is virtually an impossibility. On the one hand we hear how small business is the backbone of our economy, so you would think that there would be support in every quarter of our government to encourage its success. On the other hand, going from something that is private to something to be offered as a public and commercial enterprise brings forth challenges that the everyday person cannot begin to imagine…until they try to go into business for themselves.
We are currently at the mercy and whim of a county rezoning and permitting process, a necessity if we are to offer a campground to the public. However, during this economic meltdown affecting America, local governmental agencies have been experiencing cutback after cutback and layoff after layoff. So, while our normal permit process should have taken a matter of weeks, we now have been going about it for literally over a year. The current staff at the county Planning Department has been forced to double and triple their workloads to compensate for those who were let go. This means that those county experts who’s job it was to review permits are now also staffing the customer service counters and answering the phones. It also means a lot of waiting on our part. While we have literally bent over backward to address county concerns regarding our project, we have no end in sight for when they will finish their part so that we can move to the next step of going in front of the Hearing Examiner.
So, we wait…and wait…and wait… When you hear of all the help that is available out there for supporting small business, it’s natural to think you can find some backing to assist in either funding or simply navigating the policy waters. It’s much more difficult than that. Recently I attended an “Economic Stimulus Workshop for Small Business” sponsored by our Congressman Jay Inslee of WA. There was a lot of talk from the Small Business Assoc. (SBA) about the great changes in loan structures and the supportive stuff they were doing. The IRS was even there talking about tax code implications. Business Support Centers and Economic Development Council representatives were there touting what’s available. All seem to express the importance of business planning and getting your cash flows down on paper and understanding your finances through and through before seeking your funding. Good points to be made.
However, once a business has done its planning and is executing its plan, what’s available to assist it through the regulatory waters with their local governmental agencies? When asked this question, there were many nods from the audience of small business owners, some of whom stopped me afterwards to share similar pains. However, not one of the panel representatives could offer advice. It seems everyone was well equipped to talk about how to secure loans and signup for assistance at “extremely low rates”, but as for funding say to help us with paving our front entrance to meet a county requirement for a commercially viable front to the road…nothing.
With our business partner and housemate battling cancer right now, and the sluggishness we are experiencing trying to expedite matters with the county, we realize that the universe is certainly at work tempering our resolve. Despite these delays upon delays and the stress of living with a battle with lymphoma, we stride to remain steadfast in our Zen outlook. We seek to remain calm with eyes open and ears perked up that we gain the broader perspective these experiences are bringing forth upon our path. We let the feeling of frustration act as a spiritual guide to look out of the box for the message that we may be missing. We work in the garden to connect with the ebb and flow of the natural pace of life; to tune us to the season of growth that is nature-made rather than the pace of process that is human-made.
Yesterday we had visitors to the ranch drop by unexpectedly who had last stopped by during the construction of the log ranch house. They were simply amazed at how far we had managed to travel in the space of so short a timeframe. They noted progress everywhere. They saw a blank piece of land being brought fully to life. They commented upon potential being manifested into reality. We were reminded just how far we had come. Sometimes, when we feel stagnation setting in and are ready to throw in the towel, it is amazing that the universe sets teachers to cross your path and give you the perspective uplift you need at the time. We were thankful for their visit yesterday. It reminded us to remain mindful that to manifest something good in our currently societal reality, to strike a course that demands patience and courage, takes the resolve to remain present to the abundance that is all around us and to rise above the seemingly chaotic churn that is par for the course when giving birth to a dream.