Making staff payroll was always their top priority. Then, they adopted a baby.

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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CNBC's The Profit