If you believe in the merit of personal responsibility, at some point, it’s important to behave responsibly.
Everybody is on the same team about the survival of small businesses. Everybody, even if the words coming out of their mouth or the policies implemented sound anti-business. There’s literally no one who benefits from the death of small businesses (big box, large corporations, etc – included). There are fewer and fewer course corrections left beyond indirect measures to encourage personal responsibility.
Small businesses can’t survive if portions of the community aren’t willing – even temporarily – to change habits, fight outbreaks by being kind and wearing masks, holding each other accountable to kinder habits, and making hard choices like saying no to hanging out.
Yes, there are broad, national, top-down leadership failures that could have set the proper cadence for a coordinated response, but if you believe in the merit of personal responsibility, realize that there’s a time and place to kindly call out friends, family, and neighbors for not stepping up. Choice by choice and ripple by ripple, a tide has formed.
Personal actions are killing small businesses and local organizations including the Fort Collins Area Chamber of Commerce, City of Fort Collins – Government Economic Health department, LaunchNo.CO, United Way of Larimer County, Colorado State University, Institute for Entrepreneurship at CSU, Visit Fort Collins Colorado, Poudre River Public Library District, Larimer County Government, Larimer SBDC, Loveland Business Development Center, Fort Collins Startup Week and so many more are doing all they can to fill sandbags against the rising tide, but this still relies on everybody doing their best to support small businesses by wearing masks, shopping locally, and sometimes doing things in new ways – like ordering curbside or enjoying your beverages at home with friends on Zoom.
Businesses with outbreaks stop operating to protect employees and customers, and customers who are sick can’t shop… yet the infections rise ever upward because of the things happening outside of those businesses driving a wave of consequences across the board.
When folks with run-of-the-mill, otherwise fixable issues can’t get into UCH because they’re overloaded with folks who have COVID because someone, somewhere along the line made questionable choices or had a moment of bad luck because of someone else’s choices, we’ve gotta turn a critical eye to evaluate personal responsibility and all those individual ripples that have harmonized.
The circle of vulnerable populations is expanding to include a wider swath of our local businesses who employ over 47% of our community.
This isn’t a problem of regulation or implementation of ordinances, or businesses being flexible – they’ve bent over backward to change everything, as good entrepreneurs do. What we see is a broad and complex problem driven largely by individual decisions and self-indulgent choices – of folks eschewing that much-lauded personal responsibility.
What we’re hearing from businesses – in all those newsletters, social posts, COVID updates you’ve been seeing in your inbox – is, “We can and will keep modifying everything we can to keep customers and employees safe, but ultimately it’s on our community to do something – anything – to help.”
While many consumers are shopping locally, wearing masks, and changing their habits, this responsible behavior isn’t extending as far as it should. Selfish behavior still abounds, and kindness is in short supply in some circles.
It should tell you something about personal responsibility that the Chamber, City, and County partners have had to create a special campaign to help small businesses handle mask frustrations and non-compliance issues from customers. That local businesses have had to beef up security to handle folks who take their grievances too far.
Encourage kindness. Encourage consideration for others. Encourage responsibility. There is no other sand left to fill the bags.