The United States was founded on the idea of the American Dream. This dream has been and continues to be the inspiration for many successful small business owners. Reaching that dream encompasses talent, learning, hard work, skill and collaboration. All businesses, no matter how big they’ve grown, started small; and all successful businesses rely on the support of their communities.
Using creativity and innovation, these small business owners work to engage their surrounding communities to learn how to serve them best. Wearing multiple hats, successful business owners are able to be involved in their communities not only through their enterprise, but in town appointed offices, the school board, or community welfare programs.
Being a small business owner can be challenging. How do you get started? How do you find customers? And what is your good or service? The stats are tough. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, 70% of small businesses survive at least two years, but that number drops to 50% survival rate for five years. How do you set yourself apart and give an experience to your customers that no other business can?
On Main Street in Montpelier, Vermont, small businesses are thriving. They bring a personal connection to the community and each one’s story is unique. From restauranteurs like Carol Paquette, owner of Sarducci’s, to Karen Williams, owner of Woodbury Mountain Toys, small businesses are the heart and thread of the Main Street community that ties us all together.
Carol was working at Julio’s, a local Mexican restaurant, when she met Dorothy. Within a few years they had developed a wonderful friendship. Dorothy was interested in opening her own restaurant, and asked Carol if she would become her business partner. With Dorothy understanding the financial piece, and Carol’s knowledge on marketing and service, they were a perfect match. After many fun-filled years, Dorothy has since retired and now Carol solely runs Sarducci’s. While Carol is officially the sole owner, she relies on advice from former and current employees and professional mentors. Carol’s most valuable lessons include making sure your employees and customers feel valued and cared for and accepting that you’re going to make mistakes along the way.
Karen at Woodbury Mountain Toys had always been crafty and involved with the arts community which fostered a connection with the previous owners of the toy store. After she had been working for them part time, they decided to sell and asked her if she would like to buy. It’s a perfect fit, she says, and the most valuable lesson she has learned from running her own business is to be empathetic and to always give someone the benefit of the doubt. She defines Main Street values as, “supporting your neighbor and being locally responsible,” and is grateful for the help and support she gets from her kids.
Businesses like Carol and Karen’s are small business success stories. With the patronage of the Central Vermont community, Sarducci’s and Woodbury Mountain Toys demonstrate Main Street values and enrich their community, one book, toy or delicious meal at a time.
Karen said it best when she gave advice to those wanting to open their own business, “be prepared to work every single day, 12 hours a day, for the first 5 years, and go at it with a passion.”