Even as a child, I understood and appreciated the value small businesses bring to a community. Back in the days before helicopter parenting was a thing, my friends and I used to walk every day from middle school to the local Olson’s Market, where we would buy penny candy and Twinkies, soda and Bubble Yum. There was something so charming about its homey look, cranky but lovable owner and reliable inventory.
Of course I wasn’t thinking about business back then, I just knew I liked the store. To this day I still appreciate and shop small business whenever I can. I now understand the struggle the small business community has faced, as big box retailers and chains continue to surface in strip malls and other retail locations across the country.
Small business owners are warriors – determined to stay in their place, yet trying to stay competitive when it comes to, inventory pricing and ability to provide employee benefits like basic health care.
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But as strong as big box retailers are, just as strong is the value small businesses bring to our communities through jobs, charity, service and pride.
Small businesses often provide employment opportunities to the local economy for employees who may not qualify or be able to commute to a larger corporation. And America’s middle class has long been comprised of small business entrepreneurs, many of whom are sole proprietors. (Nearly 23 million according to HBR.org, based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau.)
Small businesses are the ultimate American Dream, inspiring many to build a better life through the opportunity to build whatever they imagine. And people appreciate that entrepreneurial spirit – a 2010 poll by The Pew Research Center found that the public had a more positive view of small businesses than any other institution in the country – more so than churches and universities or even tech startups.
Some of my favorite small businesses are the local corner breakfast spot, the tailor, a homemade candy and ice cream store, and local farm and garden spots. Without them,
While I appreciate what larger chains can provide from time to time, there’s an ambiance and spirit that comes with shopping or dining at a small business. Customer experience counts and no one understands this like a small business owner.
Small business owners also embody the spirit of hard work and sacrifice. There’s something internally gratifying to shop or work with a small business because you know that not only do the owners appreciate every patron, but that they rely on your business and will always go the extra mile to retain it.
The personal relationship aspect is another benefit to doing business with a small business.
According to a recent report by Bank of America, “Small business owners have a mindset of self-sacrifice. They prioritize their employees and customers above all else, often at the expense of their own personal or financial well-being.”
The same report also found that small business owners have been working long hours, forgoing raises and delaying their own compensation as they focus on investing in employees and attracting and rewarding repeat customers.
Here are some other insightful small business statistics:
- 67 percent of small business owners would rather delay or reduce their own compensation than take any other course of action to make ends meet.
- More than half (54 percent) of small business owners surveyed said they have either never given themselves a raise, or haven’t done so in more than two years.
- More women small business owners than men report having never given themselves a raise (23 percent of women, versus 15 percent of men).
The bottom line? Small business owners are in general, good, salt-of-the-earth and generous people who are willing to work hard and go the extra mile for the freedom and pride that comes with owning their own business. Support your local business! For you and your community.