Making staff payroll was always their top priority. Then, they adopted a baby.
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CNBC's The Profit

Being a small-business owner in the United States is challenging, rewarding, maddening, exhilarating, frustrating, and empowering.

All at the same time.

CNBC's "The Profit" visited one such small business: Bentley's Corner Barkery, a Chicago-based company started by a husband-and-wife team.


As their business expanded and became more cumbersome, it ran into some challenges. They wanted to acquire other stores, which generates its own problems and hurdles.

All images via "The Profit."

“We did whatever we had to to survive, and never let any of [our employees] know what it took — or our customers. In seven years, people got bonuses. We didn't get paid."

It can get to a point where, for example, employees get paid but the owners do not.

Making sure everybody else gets paid and taken care of becomes the highest priority. If you fail at that, you're done. Even if it means your own paycheck is zero for the month.

But it can really wear on these owners when this kind of thing happens regularly, especially when it involves other family members.

The Senafes were already under a lot of stress keeping the company and all of its stores afloat, but when they adopted a son, it became a matter of what was right for him.

Now they needed the management skills to not only make the stores profitable, but give their son the life he deserved.

This kind of stress takes a big toll.

Sebastian meets Marcus with a low-five.

Enter Marcus Lemonis, aka The Profit. He took on this business as one of the challenges that the series dives into — but this one was also a little personal for him.

You see, Marcus was also adopted, so he forms a natural connection with families that are doing the same.

"The fact that you did whatever you had to ... that's the kind of people I want to do business with."

"Most people don't have the courage to do what you do ... Most people don't have the courage to adopt a baby like you did."
— Marcus Lemonis

He helped them turn things around, learn how to manage a growing business, and make it profitable.

Sebastian now has some happier parents who can help him grow to be all that he can. Watch their emotional conflict here:

But you don't have to be Marcus Lemonis to help the small businesses in your community.

This year, many people are taking the pledge to buy from local small businesses — especially family-owned — over the holiday season.

Image from the Made in America Movement.

By the numbers:

  • Only 50% of all new small businesses survive five years or more.
  • A third survive 10 years or more.
  • About half of all private-sector U.S. workers are employed by small businesses.

Let's support these family-owned businesses and help them thrive!

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.