Small businesses are the backbone of the United States economy.
It may seem like an outdated statement given the major corporations that seem to dominate most markets, but the data shows that small businesses actually lead the charge in key areas, such as job growth. Between 1995 and 2020, small businesses accounted for 62% of all new jobs—12.7 million compared to 7.9 million by large enterprises, according to the Small Business Association.
In spite of their significance in the American economy, many small businesses and entrepreneurs face considerable challenges accessing affordable financing, especially loans that are less than $250,000. One neobanking platform, Nearside, is making a name for itself in the small business space. They’ve zeroed in on this largely underserved sector, reaching out to small businesses and new entrepreneurs with the aim to provide business banking options without any hoops to jump through.
Their mission is to democratize banking, making it easier for entrepreneurs to get their ideas off the ground—even the ones who aren’t independently wealthy or working with venture capital partners. With its innovative business model, the company provides fair financial products with low or no fees, along with tools and guidance to help entrepreneurs grow and in some cases, gain recognition to boot. Their Small Business Spotlight series is an example of how a company can use its marketing platform to further the mission of other businesses—a number of them being Nearside’s own customers.
In the spirit of National Small Business Week, here’s a look at some of the up-and-coming entrepreneurs featured, each one exemplifying the trademark tenacity that fuels the entrepreneurial journey:
From a rural area in Longview, TX, Chavalia Dunlap-Mwamba calls nature “her first perfume.” Nature, in its many forms and iterations, was the inspiration behind Pink MahogHany, the brand of hand-crafted fragrances that Dunlap-Mwamba created and beta-tested on herself. From there, it was only a matter of time before a client list began forming. But balancing demand with production and, of course, running a start-up business is no easy task.
“I used every piece of finance that I could, no loans. Whatever I saved went right back into the business,” said Chavalia in her video, which was nominated for the short form documentary category of this year’s Webby Awards. Through her dedication and creativity, Dunlap-Mwambe is the first Black independent perfumer in Texas.
Louis Hunter took a risk and experimented with soul food. He wanted to find a way to make the dishes from his childhood and community more nutritious. The experiment and risk turned into Trio Plant-Based, the first Black-owned, plant-based restaurant in Minnesota. Hunter brought his vision to life during the civic unrest of George Floyd’s murder and the subsequent protests and discussions.
“The biggest challenge of being a small Black business owner: I cook, I clean, I prep, I do paperwork. It’s a struggle, but I love this. I love what I do.” Hunter explains in his video.
His business is his passion, and it’s his way to support his community in a time of uncertainty—by offering healthier options and increasing soul food representation in a new way.
LaShondra White, an entrepreneur from Eastpointe, Michigan—20 minutes from Detroit—lived below the poverty line when she launched her business. As a mother of two girls and four boys, she struggled to find the financial backing she needed to launch her business, a lash studio—Sheer Faces. Her bank of 10 years denied her business credit when she was ready to become her own boss.
“Nobody wants to give you business credit,” she said in her video. “Nearside was the only one who said, ‘Okay, we’re going to take a chance on you,’” White explains. And the chance paid off. Sheer Faces not only offers specialized cosmetic services for lashes and brows but also provides training on these services.
The Culture of Small Business
Small businesses not only play a vital part in our economy and in job creation, they are also a big part of our culture and our story. The iconic American Dream is heavily tied to our culture of entrepreneurship—following your dreams, working hard, and enjoying the payoff. But this dream isn’t achievable without access to capital and financing.
With more equitable banking options, new entrepreneurs from all backgrounds and walks of life will be able to share their ideas and innovate in their industries. This will be a win for all of us, as more thriving small businesses means a growing job market, a stronger economy, and, of course, more high-quality goods and services competing in the marketplace and challenging the mass-produced big business status quo.
During this National Small Business Week, consider how to use your own marketing efforts as another way to support local small businesses and celebrate the entrepreneurial spirit that keeps America thriving.