My father is a retired Air Force pilot with more than 200 combat missions and 5,000 hours in the cockpit. He has always been my hero. Heroes come in many shapes and sizes. In the business world, the business owner is my hero, too.

When someone starts a business, they usually leave the security of a good job. They walk away from paid holidays, vacation and sick leave. They sacrifice the security of a retirement plan, and abandon a predictable work schedule. They forsake a regular paycheck and the ability to save for a rainy day.

All of that goes away when someone opens a small business.

The business owner works long and hard, sometimes seven days a week, twelve hours a day. There is no set work schedule to plan a life around. Sometimes there is not even a paycheck to put food on the table.

There is no retirement plan either. In fact, most business owners cash out their old 401K and invest everything in their business. There may be no savings to fall back on. Many business owners invest every penny in their business.

A high percentage of new businesses fail, with most closing their doors during the first two years. The entrepreneurial spirit is one that never gives up. They often put everything on the line, multiple times before finally achieving success.

When the business owner is successful, they create jobs for other people. They provide the comfort of a predictable paycheck and security of a retirement plan for their employees. They offer the luxury of paid holidays, vacations and sick time for their staff. They allow others to save for a rainy day.

The success of the small-business owner is the key to a healthy economy. They are the true heroes of the business world. Support local businesses in your area.

Bill Nordbrock is vice president of community relations for SCORE Southern Arizona, a nonprofit group that offers free small-business counseling and mentoring by appointment. For information, go to southernarizona.score.org, send an email to mentoring@scoresouthernaz.org or call 505-3636.