The value of providing choices

As you may know, or can read about in our special section in this edition of Ponoka News, October 20 to 26 is Small Business Week. It’s this week that we take some time to acknowledge and salute the entrepreneurial spirit and the hard work of those who open businesses in their communities.

It can be difficult to survive in a small community when it seems everyone goes to larger centres to shop, being undercut by large corporations and mass-produced products at wholesale prices.

Not everyone can find that niche, of identifying and providing a product or service that’s in demand, and the balance of providing it at both a level of quality that will attract customers, and keeping prices reasonable enough not to scare them away.

Those that do survive, however, are doing more than earning a living for themselves. Undoubtedly they are stimulating the local economy and providing jobs, but by simply offering a choice, they are also elevating the standard of living for the entire community.

By taking the risk, and opening a business in their own community, business owners are providing that variety of choice in products and services that means consumers have greater access to what they want and what they need, without having to travel.

And you know that local services and products will be of high-quality, because if they aren’t, they will lose out to their competition.

It’s a delicate, tricky thing and it takes a lot of bravery to start a business and some know-how and good fortune to stay in business. There’s a lot of risk involved when one purchases inventory or equipment, hires employees, or rents, leases or builds a site for a business.

To those that take the plunge, we salute you and say you are providing value in many ways, but also by the simple fact of providing a choice.

There was another event this week that highlighted the importance of providing choices: the federal election.

This column was written before election day on Oct. 21, but no matter the results of this election, there is something all candidates should keep in mind.

Whether or not you had a realistic hope of winning or not, by putting yourself forward and advocating for your party’s platform or your beliefs, you provided an invaluable service and played a vital role in the democratic process: you provided a choice.

In the end it doesn’t matter if you received a handful, or hundreds or thousands of votes.

By standing as a candidate for your party, you gave them a choice, you gave them a voice, and that is noble.

Contrary to what people may believe, every vote does matter. The result is not the only thing that matters. A vote cast is a voice heard. It’s a record, it’s evidence.

A statistic may just be a number, but it’s also hope for the future.

As Canadians we have much to be grateful for, even in uncertain times. We have freedom; to vote, to start a business, to live and work in relative ease and safety, and we have freedom of choice, whether that’s at the polls or just browsing over tomatoes at the grocery store.

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