In Kennedy’s Inaugural Address to the nation on Friday, January 20, 1961, he uttered the words we’ve all heard, “Ask not what your country can do for you.  Ask what you can do for your country.”

That’s great.  But I like this one better:

“We need men who can dream of things that never were.” -Also JFK

This country is in the midst of a dramatic business shift.  We continually see the corner Mom & Pop operation be ousted and leveled to make way for bigger and better.  Big box stores and online retailers are becoming the norm.  No longer can you walk down the street in most areas of this country and just walk into the shop or restaurant that somebody built with their own hands and passed it down through the generations.

It’s classic David v. Goliath battles here, and the fights are getting less and less fair all the time as Goliath acquires more corporate and Wall Street backing.  Our retail landscapes are becoming nothing more than a copy-paste of themselves; you drive down the highway, and all you see is the same 20 or 30 stores, over and over again.  As someone who’s spent a lot of time on the road, I can attest to the fact that America’s gone from elbow grease and gumption to heartless, scripted customer service and cold mechanization.

I have nothing against progress or technological advances.  For instance, I can’t fault the music industry nor its consumers for swallowing up record stores in favor of streamlined digital access.

However, in that metamorphosis, the soul of small business has started to wane.  And it scares me.  We are losing our collective national business spirit; the thing that made this country what it is.

So I implore you, as someone who bases his pride as an American on the pure potential of Americans.  If you have ever thought about starting and running a small business, it’s not just about you.  It’s about fostering and stewarding that sense of vibrance and color that can only come from the independent store owner.

“We the people” can keep that spirit alive.  Now is your time.

Start something.  Dream of something that never was, and make it happen.