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An open letter to a struggling business owner and friend:

Dear _____________,

we’ve never met in person, but as a very happy customer of yours for several years now, I feel almost as if I know you.  you throw yourself heart and soul into your business, and it shows, both in the wide variety of products you offer your customers and in your courteous, responsive service.*  you share yourself — snippets of your personal life and insights into your day-to-day business — freely w/the public through your blog and other social media outlets, and I applaud your generosity; we all like to do business w/our friends, and your openness has naturally, w/o contrivance, fostered the kind of loyalty that some companies will often try (and fail miserably) to buy.  you are one of the most genuine people I know, and I admire that.

lately you’ve been struggling w/having to continually deal w/disgruntled customers of the sort who think they deserve special, preferential treatment; that your integrity is less important than their selfish whims, that you should bend your clearly-stated company policies to favour them, and that if you don’t that somehow makes YOU a bad person.

*(anyone who has had a different experience w/your customer service is likely one of these “sell your soul for a few pennies; I’m special, bow to me!” kind of people)

I’m not going to tell you to suck it up; I’m not going to tell you everything’s okay and that they’ll all go away and leave you in peace.  I will, however, attempt to explain to you WHY this is the way things are:

you, dear friend, are a target.

you live your life full-out, and you’ve found joy and satisfaction and success in pursuing your passions in both your professional and personal life.  you have a wonderful family whom you adore and who love you back, you are living your dream of owning a company that allows you tremendous creative expression, you are a beautiful person inside and out.  what’s not to hate?  (hopefully you’ll recognize this as my wry humour)

there are small-minded, petty people in this world who see what you’ve achieved — what you’ve been blessed with and improved upon through unyielding dedication, gritty determination, and enthusiastic hard work — and they see themselves as failures b/c they’ve never really done anything w/what they’ve been given; many of them are so hung up on what they DON’T have that they never bother to consider what they DO have and then go do something wonderful w/it.  these are the kind of people who only know how to feel good about themselves when they’re trying to make someone else feel badly, and since that kind of happiness is so fleeting and hollow, they indulge in it as deeply and as often as possible, trying to get that fix, trying to feel happy, never really succeeding, never knowing why.

until you give up, until you decide to forfeit your dreams, until you choose to be less than you are, you will continue to be a target.  notice I did NOT say “the petty people will be happy and leave you alone”; all that will happen is they’ll move on to a new target.  sure, they might finally leave you alone, but only after you’ve sacrificed everything you’ve built, everything you ARE, on the altar of their miserable smallness.

I know it’s hard:  I was once a target.  I never realized that, let alone comprehended it, until my best friend explained it to me many years ago (he could be very insightful).  my circumstances have changed now, and I no longer find myself constantly beleaguered by people who wish I was as small as they are to justify their own smallness (if they’re still out there, I don’t know about them).  just know that, for every loud-mouthed whiner who attempts to hold you hostage to their selfishness and asks your integrity as the price of their indulgence, there are many MANY more of us who love and support you and are truly happy for you and unfortunately just aren’t often as vocal about that as we should be.  I hope this open letter somehow makes up for that in some small way.

Warmest regards from your friend and loyal customer,