On Small Business - and Eudaimonia

April 29, 2024

On some small level, I have been involved in small business in Northern Colorado for as long as I can remember. My family has been in the real estate development business since the 1950s. We have watched as Fort Collins and other communities surrounding have grown significantly in the last 70 years. It’s been fun to watch, but also humbling to know that as our lives have been lived here, this amazing place has flourished - and whatever small part we’ve played has been a blessing to be a part of.

I can remember my granddad showing me from an early age how the cycle of small business is what made Northern Colorado as attractive and unique as it is. I stood with him in the Foothills Fashion Mall  listening to him talk about the Mr. Neats Tuxedo shop, and how that idea had come from a student at Colorado State University, had been financed by a local bank, and was now a significant contributor to the mall tenancy and its success. 

I suppose I have been uniquely aware of the synergy of business, academics, and geography in Fort Collins for as long as I’ve been paying attention.

The truth is, as this city changed, and the streets kept their names, it has been small business that has continued to be the anchor of the triune elements that make Northern Colorado special. In my discussions and conversations with people as I conduct my business, I am always surprised by the amount of innovation and forward-thinking that happens within our community. It is not uncommon to find out that someone has an incredible business - that employs dozens of people and makes amazing products - that I have never heard of. 

There’s something magic in that elixir of small business and northern Colorado that has drawn me to help in a new role at Loco Think Tank. I believe that small business is both the most invigorating and exciting frontier, where grand things can manifest from the residual spirit of self reliance that seems inherent to people from the United States. But it is also a fragile environment, where even small missteps can turn costly in short order. 

Small business in the United States is under assault everywhere. We watched during the late unpleasantness of 2020, as nearly 3,000,000 small businesses closed because of the pandemic, never to return to the marketplace. Everywhere we look, America is consolidating into larger corporations, where large sums of money and political favor are dolled out to the most connected. Even our institutions of academics seem to have an air of disparagement around the entrepreneur. Choosing the path of a small business person has become precarious, complicated, and lonesome.

When Curt and I began discussing opportunities in Northern Colorado to help small businesses, I felt compelled that Loco Think Tank is one of the ways that small businesses can get an upper hand towards success. I wanted to become an advocate for those who seem alone in the wilderness and give them a tool I believe in to do so. 

I have strong beliefs around what makes Northern Colorado as wonderful as it is, and for me, it is inseparable from the frenetic spirit that small business brings to our College avenues, our 4th streets, our Forge campuses and industrial parks and all  the hidden corners where amazing things happen in business in Northern Colorado. 

It may be too lofty of a goal for me to set, but if I were to look back after a year, or five years, of involving myself in small businesses through my work at Loco Think Tank, I would want the landscape of our grand land to be healthier than it was when I started. I want amazing things to happen here. I think they can, when small business owners decide to be engaged with each other. There is something special about the camaraderie that can be developed between people who are earnestly working to make their lives, their families, their friends, and their communities better. It doesn’t come without a cost or substantial effort; but it will deliver great reward. 

Aristotle describes the pursuit of happiness with a Greek word: eudaimonia. The idea behind it is that happiness is not based on the accumulation of things or wealth that’s directed strictly at self interest. Aristotle makes the claim that the pursuit of happiness is unavailable to the strictly self-interested, and that only through the pursuit of raising up your neighbor can true happiness be found. 

I believe that to be true of Northern Colorado. I watched as my granddad put so many other businesses ahead of his own in order to see this landscape thrive with great vigor. I learned that lesson from a young age - if we invest in each other, greater things will happen. I’m excited to be a part of Loco Think Tank because I believe this gives us all an incredible vehicle to pursue happiness by pursuing the benefit of others in business.

Guest Blog by Aaron Everitt, LoCo Business Development

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