**A guest post from our co-founder, Tim Garrity**
Well, here we are. Just over 6 months from the original “quarantine/lock-down” in PA, and going into a fall season where real estate is on fire. Needless to say, 2020 has been a very interesting year.
As a small business owner and co-founder of Copper Hill Real Estate, I’ve personally been able to take this time to reflect on where our company has been, where it is today, and where it’s going. When PA made the decision not to label real estate as an essential business, being that it was listed as such in many other states, it was an opportunity for Andrew, Ryan, and me to look at the company as a whole and tackle a laundry list of to-do items that had been waiting for our time and attention. When you run a business, it’s easy to get caught up “in the business” and forget about working “on the business.”
Being the optimist that I am, I looked at our setback as an opportunity.
Before we get into that, let’s dive into the small business piece a bit more, as these were the businesses being affected most during the pandemic and are still being affected today; depending on what type of industry/sector you are in.
So, just how important are small businesses to a city/region such as Philadelphia? According to local tech news source Technical.ly Philly, “99.7% of area companies” are categorized as small businesses which are recognized by the SBA as “500 employees or less.” Although that cut-off number probably sounds high, “53.7% had 5 employees or fewer.” Which means that more than half of every storefront, every strip mall, and every office building we see is made up of small businesses that support the livelihood of just a few local people.
That’s pretty amazing, as well as eye-opening.
Growing up in the suburbs for just under 2 decades, and living in the city for just over 2 decades, I can say with confidence that Philadelphia is a small business kind of town. It’s the local neighborhood/community eco-systems that drive our economic engine, and not the skyscrapers that dot our skyline. Everything from a corner hoagie/steak shop to a small construction company, most of these businesses were started by local people who thought they could build something on their own ... and they did. I have a lot of respect for those business owners, seeing as I have accomplished that myself. But, being that I also worked in corporate America for close to 10 years, I have an even greater appreciation for small business owners.
The reason I chose to guest write this blog post is because quarantine was not only a time for me to reflect on Copper Hill, but it allowed me to reflect on my own life and reevaluate my daily and weekly routines. I have always been a firm believer in work-life balance, even though every entrepreneurial book you read and podcast you listen to will tell you it’s not possible; I firmly disagree. So how do I know that work-life balance is achievable for an entrepreneur like me, and why do I disagree with the naysayers? One word: partners.
Most entrepreneurs go it alone when they get started, but I was lucky enough to have two trusted partners and friends when Copper Hill was born. I am very fortunate to have a brother like Ryan, and a brother-from-another-mother like Andrew; amazing men with limitless talent. I’m also very fortunate that life threw our three business paths together when it did, and just at the right time. We seized on that opportunity which is why I am able to write about it today. The three of us go to battle every day to strengthen and protect our company and fight for our right to be entrepreneurs; more importantly, small business owners in Philadelphia. It’s not an easy path, but I would not want the journey any other way.
What started out almost 6 years ago as a 50 square foot, broom-closet of an office space with the three of us jammed in like sardines, has now turned into an over 2,500 square foot, Copper Hill-branded headquarters with almost 40 team members. And how did we get here … teamwork. We are living proof that you can be an entrepreneur, a small business owner, and a successful man or woman in a city like Philadelphia, and still have work-life balance to spend time with family, friends, and non-work-related joys in life.
That’s what being a small business owner means to me, and why I work my ass off for it every day. And as you can see from the stats I shared above, most businesses in Philadelphia are not that dissimilar from Copper Hill; this pandemic has made me realize that. Small businesses like ours rely on family, friends, and referrals to drive their business growth, so they can provide goods, services, and jobs to local folks every day.
It’s those relationships that are more important now than ever before, and I am grateful for the relationships I have.