Today would be my Grandma’s 94th birthday. She influenced my life in uncountable ways. One I’ve been thinking about a lot lately is her life’s work with my Grandpa: owners of the family hardware store passed down by my great-grandfather.

Her name probably wasn’t listed on any official business documents, but she was just as foundational to the business as he was, working tirelessly to support the business before she retired. She kept the books, rang up customers, kept the store stocked and tidy, sharpened ice skates, gift-wrapped, and made sure my Grandpa came home to a hot lunch everyday when she was home with young kids.

The pride my Grandma and Grandpa felt in building their business on the backs of their hard work is what I want for all of my clients. It’s also what I want for my family, and I do feel proud that my husband and I have built businesses of our own.

In a bigger picture way, the principles I saw firsthand involved with building and running a small, family business are values we could use more of in this country:

  • Genuine care for customers: When a big snowstorm hit (this was Michigan, after all), customers needed working snowblowers asap. My grandparents, and the whole family, worked overtime, without overtime pay, to make sure their customers were able to dig themselves out to go to their own jobs and school.
  • Community engagement: My Grandma was a Den Mother. My Grandpa was a city commissioner. They worked hard all day and still made time to contribute to their community.
  • Social networking: No, they didn’t have smartphones or Facebook, but the hardware store was a place where people could congregate, sharing updates on their lives and hashing out local politics. My uncle called it a “mini city hall.”

My hope for G & G Law is to enable more people to live out their own small business dreams.

Aren’t they cute?