0

Take a chance - Martha Carr

There's a pithy saying that's been around for awhile that says congratulations are in order when someone is laid off, because greater things must be in store for them. That whole idea of feeling good in the middle of something miserable must be wearing a little thin for everyone right about now.

We are about to enter the third year of life after the Great Recession began, and more than ever we're all starting to realize things aren't ever going back to where they were in December of 2007. That was the last holiday season for the country to be blissfully unaware.

Now, the economists say the Great Recession is technically over, but housing prices have not rebounded, the job rate is still going in the wrong direction and the cost of living for things like food and fuel manages to magically rise anyway. It can make even the bravest soul wonder why they should take a chance and follow a dream, especially now.

Fortunately, the saving grace of America is that we were founded by people who took big chances by crossing a very dangerous ocean where not everyone survived the trip. Those who came before us even had the audacity to believe in a different form of government than the entire history of the world had ever known before, where you'd have to agree to the majority rule.

Americans then headed west into further unknown territory to create their own destiny, and we continue to this day to dream a little dream of our own. Of course, we're going to venture out into the business world in the middle of the Great Recession. It's in our basic DNA. We believe in the power of humility mixed with ingenuity that translates into having a good idea and being willing to set out without knowing if it'll all work out.

Americans believe the odds are with them.

I have a few inspiring examples of friends in Chicago who are setting out on a variety of paths and doing it in their own unique fashion. The first is Piccadilly Tea, www.PiccadillyTea.com, started by Lisa Berens and Meegan Scovell, who just had their first professional gig as caterers, and were met with rave reviews, not only about the experience, but the fig sandwich on pumpernickel with candied walnuts ,or the lemon tea cake with lemon curd. Good stuff.

It had long been a dream of Lisa's to own a tea shop, and after she was laid off as a managing director at a Fortune 1000 financial services corporation, she looked into the idea. The risk to benefit of having a physical location was a little high, especially in light of the Great Recession, but maybe there was a way to still set out right now.

Lisa found a great chef and partner in Meegan and together the two decided to start with just the catering aspect and their openness has led to a unique hook. Customers love the idea of having a formal tea brought to them instead of having to venture out to a shop.

That's another benefit of willingness to start from where we are with what we have. Sometimes, we trip over even bigger benefits. Another friend, Ann Cort was recently laid off after years with another financial firm, and went into business for herself with Isagenix, a holistic nutritional program based on the idea of rebalancing the body. The system is sold through multi-level-marketing, known as MLM's where one friend sells to another and is the fastest-growing type of new business in America.

Ann said she chose the new business after careful consideration, not only because she believes in the products, but because she wanted a career where she could be of service to others. That has carried over into her marketing where she's trying to practice a balance of attraction rather than promotion. Customers start to feel better and they tell their friends. More on Ann's new career can be found at my site, www.martharandolphcarr.com.

Lastly, Chris Rutledge, of Red Line Painting, www.RedLinePainting.com, who started his business the same month as the Great Recession made the two-fold decision to create a high level of accountability even with his painting crews, while giving generously to a different local Chicago charity every month. He's managed to keep both promises even in the first winter, when business was slow and the recession was in the deepest pockets. He's been rewarded with a growing and very loyal customer base who can't wait to tell others.

That combination of willingness to not only start, but serve, is the American spirit being put to work on Main Street all across the country. That's also what will end up rebuilding our country, once again. More adventures to follow.

Martha's column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc., newspaper syndicate. E-mail Martha at: Martha@caglecartoons.com.