KB Brown: As a business owner, if you don’t work, you don’t eat.

So many small businesses and entrepreneurs fail because of one problem or misstep along the way, and too often, it has nothing to do with their business. I’ve seen this happen to many people who try to start their own business. And far too often, things have happened to me and my family that are beyond my control.

Recently, I was in a bad car accident. We had to close our doors and scale back our operations. My memory has been greatly impacted, and several issues – like my hand shaking – impact my ability in the shop. I still have two CAT scans and an MRI to do, and I start physical therapy soon. I am tired all the time, and I know I need to take time off, but I can’t. As a business owner, if you don’t work, you don’t eat.

I try to look at the positives of my situation. We are lucky the accident happened with a rental, not our car. We have understanding, loyal customers and several projects in the works. If I didn’t have my wife working with me, we would certainly have to shut down. Luckily, I have a partner who does most of the thinking for us both anyway and friends who help out.

The bottom line is, small businesses need more support from our country to thrive. A program like paid family and medical leave would really help me right now. I would have the time I need to rest and recover without worrying about making my mortgage payment or putting food on the table. 

Lots of small business owners and people live just one paycheck away from financial ruin, but given wealth disparities by race, people of color are far more at risk. Access to paid family and medical leave is important for everyone in Minnesota, but will make even more of an impact in communities like North Minneapolis.

KB Brown is the owner of Wolfpack Promotionals, a promotional printing company in Minneapolis

Check out more Small Business for Paid Leave resources at smallbusinessforpaidleave.org.