Looking at the news these days is hard on the soul man. Experts say this virus thing is a long way away from being over, and that’s not even mentioning the economy which has totally tanked. I’ve been doing my part by staying home, but I knew there was more I could do to help my fellow entrepreneurs and small business owners that are feeling the pain of COVID-19 right now.
I’ve been watching the numbers, seeing the forecasts, watching the market get hammered. I haven’t forgotten what it’s like to overcome adversity. I remember worrying about how to pay employees, insurance, rent, utilities, overhead and interest on the loan for the store that you built from the ground up.
I was asked to participate with the White House and industry leaders across the United States to discuss how to help our economy recover. I might not be the most educated, but I have a hell of a lot of experience being a business owner, and I want to help America win.
Folks know me as the man behind the sandwich. I like to say that I’m the man behind the man behind the sandwich. I was able to build a single store with a single employee (me!) into a 2,800 unit franchise system with over 80,000 employees. But it wasn’t an overnight success story. We had to survive the Tech bust, 9/11 slowdown, the Atkins diet and the Great Recession. Not to mention a few of our misfires and mis-hires.
We’ve gone through plenty of good times and bad times, but looking back on it, I can tell you that we’ve actually been more successful for how we’ve handled the hard times. Jimmy John’s was named Forbes #1 Franchise in 2015, but we earned that award by the decisions we made in ’08-’09. We came out of the Great Recession with a different trajectory because we outworked the competition, were disciplined with numbers, took the toughest jobs for ourselves and made it happen.
I love talking to fellow entrepreneurs. Rockstars who are willing to take risks, bet on themselves and work hard and kick ass. I love what’s possible in this country with hard work and grit. We all have the chance to live the American Dream, but if you’re a business owner right now, it doesn’t feel so dreamy. I get it. How you do things over the next few months can determine your success for years to come.
I want to share a few stories and thoughts on my experience as a business owner and entrepreneur, share what I can from what I’m hearing in Washington and discuss what we can all do to get America’s economy running like a champ again.
I’ve been told that this is something I should be putting in a business book, but I can get this out faster than any publisher.