It's one of those things business owners take for granted - until it's no longer there - electricity.
Power cuts can decimate small businesses. Unlike large companies, small firms often can't afford to buy and run their own private generators. Many small enterprises can't afford the wasted time when blackouts hit.
As I write this small businesses across the world have cause for concern.
While parts of South Africa earlier this month returned to forced power cuts (termed load-shedding there) - the first since its 2008 power crisis - India's northern states have been hit by large scale cuts lasting up to 12 hours a day (barely two years after massive power cuts in 2012), which some are warning could force a quarter of small enterprises to close down.
A report released earlier this month by Indian business chamber Assocham warned that industrial production there is expected to fall by 40% because of frequent power outages in northern Indian states.
It's not just India and South Africa. Parts of Africa, the Middle East (including worst-hit Lebanon) and South-East Asia (Indonesia's capital Jakarta was hit by a two-day blackout last month ) continue to be plagued by constant power outages.
Others are also facing the risk of blackouts. Last year, while electioneering, Chile's president Michelle Bachelet warned that the South American country - which relies on energy imports - could be hit by an electricity crisis as soon as 2017, if new alternatives were not added soon.
To add to the burden, to stem demand and cover the cost of new power projects, governments across the world are increasing electricity prices. Tariffs have already increased by 20% in Chile since 2010 and by up to 150% in South African since 2008 (though increases for poorer South Africans were dramatically less than this).
India's capital Delhi too could also see electricity tariff rises after an announcement this month by the state's electricity regulator that higher fuel costs necessitated a price rise. Since 2011 electricity tariffs in the state have risen by 45%.
The blackouts in India and South Africa and elsewhere are a direct result of the two countries' failure to invest in new power plants (India especially - as it has a fifth of the world's population yet just a 30th of its energy supply).
Electricity distributors in some Indian states have imposed weekly "power holidays" on industries to try force a cut in demand. But this has had little success in ending power cuts. Earlier this month the government of India's state of Punjab pledged that power cuts would come to an end there with the first unit of a new power plant now online.
In South Africa the country's power utility Eskom has responded by requesting South Africans to switch off non-essential lights and appliances and by asking large industrial clients reduce their power consumption by 10% on those days worst affected. Eskom says the threat of further blackouts should come to an end after the first of two new power stations, already hit by delays, comes online in December.
The old generator
In the end business owners may be able to do little more than invest in a diesel power generator - which can cost tens of thousands of dollars.
In Nigeria the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria and the National Association of Small Scale Industries estimate that their members spend an average of about 2 billion naira (about $12 million) a week on generators, because of regular power cuts there.
Importers are expected to gain most. South Africa's 2008 energy crisis saw the import of generators increased from R64-million ($6-million) in December 2007 to R285-million in March 2008 in the middle of the blackouts.
But without generators small firms' losses could be substantial. A 2012 study by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (Ficci) of 650 companies found that of those firms that do not rely on power back-up units to ensure continuous production activity, 61% expected to suffer above 10% loss in production.
Black out, shut down
Many firms will close down. A study released this year in Nigeria found that continuous power cuts in Kano in Nigeria have already forced more than half of the city's 400 factories to close down, leaving some half a million without work.
In a study released last year of 528 Senegalese small enterprises 57% indicated the shortage of electricity as a major constraint to conducting business. Their average losses amounted to 5.1% of their sales - what the authors termed as above average for losses incurred from regular power outages.
Most small businesses want governments to get their act together and vamp up power generation to meet demand, or to at least grant them incentives for small firms to produce their own power or to cover the cost of buying and running small generators.
Failing to do so will cripple tens of thousands of small businesses and damage job creation and set back economic development.
Stephen Timm writes on small business. He is based in São Paulo, Brazil.
Stephen Timm is a