The definition of entrepreneurship, according to Webster’s Dictionary, is as follows: The activity of setting up a business or businesses, taking on financial risks in the hope of profit.

Sounds pretty straight forward and while the dictionary does a nice job of defining entrepreneurship, I will focus on one key word in this definition; HOPE. Hope on the grandest of scales.

While making a profit is important and what keeps the lights on, that is not all that a true entrepreneur hopes for.

As a business owner, I dare speak for all other owners that we share a common thread; we strive and hope to be of value to our community. Despite the hard knocks, pursuit of another day, the never give up attitude is deeply rooted within and directly linked to a sense of home and family. It has to be, turning the key day after day is not easy.

There are the obvious difficulties; foot traffic, parking or no parking, weather, local economy and even global economy.

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Other examples: What kind of harvest did our coffee farmer on the other side of the world have? What is the cost of shipping for consumer goods? Speaking of goods, will it be something that our local market will want? Need? Is it of value?

Sound a little risky? It is. Vulnerability is a constant companion as a business owner sharing our passion, creativity and vision with the community at large. Doing so with each passing challenge, we believe that as a community, we are all the better for it. If not for that hope, I don’t think myself, and likely many others, could have stood back up in the face of storm after storm after storm that 2020 brought.

To have survived the storms means there is opportunity to impact our customers on a small and yet hopefully, a grand scale! We also hope we continue to impact our employees; seeking to provide a platform for innumerable teaching moments to occur.

Weathering the storms of 2020, hope was never more apparent nor as defined under the intense pressure business owners faced. The past year has quite possibly been the toughest challenge Downtown Merchants Association has ever experienced. But it is true what they say, the toughest of times do not define us, they refine us.

As the collective of entrepreneurs that make up Alexandria Downtown Merchants Association, we embark on the 2021 season with a renewed sense of hope and optimism. We look forward to executing our entrepreneurial spirit in the planning of events with the intention of bringing our community together. We’re excited to share our vision of what we believe Downtown Alex is all about, which is family. There is a palpable sense of togetherness, comradery and team spirit. As never before, we are so looking forward to the future with you and your families.

Patty Dusing is a business owner and serves on the board of directors for the Alexandria Downtown Merchants Association. In the Know is a rotating column written by community leaders from the Douglas County area.