Small Business Saturday, established by American Express, celebrates the diversity of small businesses across the U.S. and recognizes the importance of supporting small businesses, the jobs they help create, and the culture they foster in local communities. The pandemic heightens the urgency and importance of supporting our local small businesses.
This year, it is crucial that we not only support Small Business Saturday on November 28th but, more importantly, on every single day. Small businesses struggling to survive are depending on another round of stimulus but Congress is deadlocked. Businesses need to do everything they can, right now, to ensure they will survive, whether they receive stimulus money or not which I discussed on DC Tonight Prime last week.
During this difficult time, the problems seem overwhelming. There are massive job losses, budget deficits and economic inequality for minorities and women. Where do we even begin to make a difference? Trying to find a solution seems complicated, and for many of us, it feels beyond our control. However, the answer is simple. SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL BUSINESSES!
The primary reasons to support local businesses include:
Small Business Creates Jobs Locally – There are 31.7 million small businesses in the United States which represent 99.9% of all businesses here reports the U.S. Small Business Administration. Small businesses tend to hire employees who live in or near the communities that they operate; thereby boosting local employment rates.
Keeping Money in Local Community – With their earnings, small business workers purchase goods and services at their local businesses, so that money is fueled back into other small businesses. Small businesses also keep disposable income and tax money within their communities. Business tax money, paid by both employees and businesses, stays local and further benefits the communities through its support of schools, road and municipal services. Small business owners are more likely to help other local business owners by purchasing supplies, partnering in marketing efforts and helping to create a cycle of support that helps local economies thrive.
Diversity – Small businesses provide opportunities for women and minorities to establish themselves in significant roles within companies, or to start their own businesses. Over the past decade, minority businesses represent 50 percent of the two million new businesses started in the United States and created 4.7 million jobs. There are now more than four million minority-owned companies in the United States, with annual sales totaling close to $700 billion according to the U.S. Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship.
There are 1,118,863 women-owned businesses with employees in the United States reports the U.S. Small Business Administration. “On average, a woman-owned firm had $1.3 million in annual sales and employed eight workers. Small businesses constitute the majority of these firms with 99.9 percent of female-owned employer businesses having fewer than 500 employees.” So how can YOU support your local businesses and make a difference. My five recommendations include:
Think Before You Buy! – Before you make that purchase, ask yourself if you could buy this product or service locally. In today’s world, you can buy nearly anything in a few easy clicks. With winter coming up, I found myself looking at ski gear on Amazon.com, and like many people, I sorted by price and ratings and ordered hats, gloves and helmets for my family. But once I looked further with some Google searching, I found I was buying products from large Asian factories that had a history of quality issues. We all use different criteria when we buy something (price, quality, service, corporate responsibility, etc.). However, make sure you do your research beyond star ratings and price! When I buy products locally, I know who to call when I have a problem or if I have a question.
Go Direct – It’s a common misperception that buying through third-party apps is more efficient. My grandfather always taught me that it was better to cut out the middle-man. Buying on Amazon.com, where they get 30% of the order, or using Postmates or another food delivery service where they not only get 30-35% of the order, they also mark up the menu, hurts you and the small business. Cut out the middleman!
Communicate – Like with any relationship, you need to communicate with your partner – the small business. Talk to them about the service you received, the new products and services that you wish they offered or the hours you would like them to be open. We all need feedback to be our best and small businesses are no exception. It’s like the movie, Jerry McGuire, “hep me, help you.” Help small businesses help you as well as the larger community.
Spread the Word! – Small businesses are not just businesses, they are people. Spread the word about Steve or Jennifer. Make it personal to others about how much you enjoy the experience of dealing with them. It’s the human connection with people and community that makes for a unique shopping experience. Share that with others as word of mouth is the best marketing that a business can have.
Be Consistent – It’s great to support Small Business Saturday on November 28th, but it’s not enough to make real change. It’s analogous to a New Year’s resolution to get in shape where you visit the gym on January 1st and never return. Be consistent with how you think about your purchases and how you want to change your community. Like all good things in life, it’s never an easy fix but by consistently investing your effort in your local community you will receive dividends that go well beyond a good shopping experience.
Business isn’t just business; it’s personal when you are doing business with a small business in your community. Over the years, I have developed many friendships with people whose business I have frequented. In business terms, it’s about the experience, and you can’t compete with that.