by Mark Grodkowski, Sweetly Divine
This column is part of our ongoing series of op-eds this election season from small business owners working with The Marketplace by TheBlaze. We often hear politicians talk about what small business owners want, and if elected, what public officials could do to help these entrepreneurs. But we haven’t heard enough from small business owners themselves. This series will feature small business owners discussing their business, ‘how they built that,’ and what it has been like trying to sustain and grow their business over the last 4 years.
My name is Mark Grodkowski and I built my business.
My wife and I are the owners of Sweetly Divine; a European stylized pastry shoppe in Logan,Utah, and gourmet jelly distributor available online. I started my business in 2006. When the recession knocked on the doors of the entire country, my business wasn’t left behind. I was hit by it and quite hard. Within a year I was forced to lay off half of my staff and then increase my own personal hours. Shortly after, in June of 2008, I was working 12-16 hours per day, 6 days a week. I had to be creative in what I was producing and make only the things which would sell. Anything else was left for special orders only. I was on the verge of closing my doors 6 times. In 2009 when my boys got older, they started to work at our shop 6 days a week as well. When I had to choose if I will pay the rent or the health insurance, my wife had a really hard time adjusting and a fear was increased.
Today, I still don’t have any insurance, but have my business, my family and greater faith in God. I built my business because I want to show it to my children as evidence that their father and mother worked hard every day, and never asked for handout. I want them to be a part of this accomplishment. I am grateful for my customers which kept me in business. We helped each other, have cried on each other’s shoulder and lifted each other up. This work and experience helps me know that I will be fine, and my children will accomplish great things because they worked hard as a part of the family business without any rewards but a pure and honest thank you from me. Furthermore, I believe having a successful marriage is critical for a successful business. Treating your spouse with respect and love will reflect on how you treat your customers and how you conduct yourself in business.
It has not been an easy experience over the last 6 years since launching my business, but thanks to faith, honesty and integrity —both at home and in the workplace–I have been able to stay in business.