As the co-owner of a small, “mom and pop” business, I take everything personally. It is only because of my spouse/business partner’s and my hard work, long term commitment to our company, and personal sacrifices that we have achieved what we have. Every single item in our office, from the pens and paper we use, to the sophisticated video and camera equipment we need to perform our work, has been carefully selected and more important, paid for, by my partner and me. Until someone owns his/her own company, it is difficult to realize just how personal everything in the workplace is to the owners. We recently had a vendor attend a meeting in our office, who, upon her arrival, immediately insulted our telephone system. Amazingly, she committed a fundamental mistake in failing to recognize that my partner and I carefully selected our telephones from the countless choices that were available and obviously, we must like them, otherwise, we would have purchased something different! This is but one example that communicates how the small business owner, who works diligently on behalf of his/her company, often takes exception to those who second guess our choices regarding the items we have chosen for our office. Relatedly, unlike the sign in many retail establishments, “You break it, you bought it,” in our business environment, even though you break it, WE bought it and WE will have to replace it.
When one owns the business, this includes all of the stuff that goes along with it. And, as Melissa pointed out, business owners must determine the best way to utilized the finite resources one has to get the job done. What prompted this post is the surprising number of times we have seen people, often employees, not understand that we are doing the best we can with our resources, or worse, being disrespectful to us by not taking proper care of the resources entrusted to them. Or, even worse, pilfering even small items like pens or paper pads, without concern for who they belonged to in the first place. As an employee and manager of another business I had to counsel an employee who apparently thought nothing of taking home a 6 pack of sodas. The business owner for whom I worked at the time was very wealthy, but she was horrified that this trusted employee would do such a thing. I realize that companies have not always seemed loyal and generous to employees, but this should not create an environment where employees try to get even somehow by pilfering. Instead, employees should strive to be known for being cost conscious and for being respectful of the stuff that surrounds them in the workplace, stuff bought by someone else, their employer.