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Common misconceptions about new businesses

The focus of this article is inspired by something I’ve observed growing up in Jessamine County, and also by a recent conversation with a friend who is interested in opening their own business.

So what do we usually imagine when we think about the idea of starting a new business? It’s something that many may consider being a part of the classic American dream. Right up there with owning one’s own home. It’s a nice thought, but not as easy as it may look.

The thing I’ve noticed growing up in Jessamine County is businesses come and go.

The little mom and daughter grocery store on Edgewood? Gone years ago. A new restaurant on the same road as McDonald’s? Gone and replaced by another used car lot.

Time and time again, these new business ideas that surely were fueled by the passion of local residents have failed and faded away, only to be replaced by another such venture. Thus, the cycle continues. Now, this article is in no way intended to discourage anyone from following their dreams. Only to pose an important question.

So the question I’m asking is why? Why, in a county that prides itself on local products and boldly proclaims “Shop Small!” do small businesses that embody these values seem doomed to failure? It seems simple. Most people don’t try new things for a variety of reasons.

One big reason people, in general, might not go visit a recently opened business in their area is because we, as people, get comfortable with what we’re used to. This comfortability extends to many things, such as you could try that new cafe that opened up nearby, but you know that McDonald’s has iced coffee that you love and it’s probably cheaper.

You could try that little mom and pop grocery store that you saw an ad for in the paper, however, Wal-Mart has such a great selection and constant sales.

These are thoughts that might go through our heads every time we consider going somewhere brand new. We naturally prefer familiarity and simplicity. Most the of the time we have to go out of our way to support new businesses and it’s just easier to stick with what we know. The adult life is busy and stressful enough so we’ll naturally take the path of least resistance.

How often do you actively look for new stores or services being offered? Do you check the paper, search online for new options or just listen to what your friends inform you of? Sometimes the hardest part of starting up your business is just trying to make people aware that you’re there in the first place, and get on the map in a way. If no one even knows your store just opened up, then by default no one will come.

In closing, I want to reiterate that this article shouldn’t discourage anyone. Just as I said to my friend who pitched his business to me, take your time and do your best. I look forward to supporting what the people of Jessamine County do next!

Timothy Buckler is a lifestyle columnist who contributes often to the Jessamine Journal.