If your business model depends on paying employees minimum wage – or anything less than an actual living wage – you don’t have a viable business.
Living Wage Earning Employees or Donors?
What you have is a charity to support your hopes and dreams. Your employees are your donors. They show up every day and give you more than they get back to support your “business” – and your lifestyle. All while they struggle to make ends meet.
They probably didn’t agree to that because they were EXCITED about underwriting your personal dreams. More likely, they agreed because they couldn’t find anyone else who wouldn’t also take advantage of their need for income to entice them into working for less than a living wage.
You’re pretty lucky to have a gig like that. If your donor/employees had to be let go during quarantine, they’ve had time to reflect on this. Perhaps they reached a point where they decided they can no longer afford to support YOU like that. They may have even decided they have to go find a deal that takes care of them too. How you respond to that is all about your character – not theirs.
The Least You Could Do…
The least you could do is thank them for their previous support as they go. Blaming them for being lazy and not wanting to keep working in your unviable personal charity that you call a business isn’t a good look.
My farm is not a viable business. We give everything away and have no sales revenue. From time to time I ask people to give money to support me and the farm. The reality is that if I spend enough of my time making the farm “work” I don’t usually have enough time left to earn all the money it takes to support me and the farm.
At least I’m honest about what’s going on here.
Oh, and PS: spare me the lectures of not understanding what business owners go through. Yes. Yes, I do. I went to sleep each night through much of my 20’s hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt for a real estate business I’d started. There was a wife beside me and a newborn across the hall. Seriously, spare me.