Small Business Needs You 365, Not Just the Last Saturday of November

I don’t think there’s much argument in the statement that small business is the backbone of the economy in the United States. It accounts for nearly half of the economic activity in the country, provides about over 150 million new jobs per year, nearly half of the employees in the United States work for a small business. Amazingly, 99.9% of the businesses in the United States are small businesses and, most have been hit hard as a result of the COVID pandemic.

While I believe global trade does have a place in our economy, the COVID pandemic left us, the consumer, scrambling for products that are produced overseas and imported by the US ultimately, introducing all of us to supply chain issues. Bad news, it’s not going to miraculously change any time in the near future.

Why DON’T we make items, like computer chips, right here in our own country or even, in our own state? Easy answer, cost. We, the consumer, want WHAT we want, WHEN we want it and, we want it at the lowest cost possible. Even the big businesses who brag “made in the USA”, import the large majority of their raw materials, parts, etc. from overseas. I, as a small business owner, totally get it. If I can purchase candle containers for a fraction of the cost by importing them, why wouldn’t I? Paying $.75 per imported jar (before the recent tariffs tossed that option into the trash can), compared to $2.00 per jar allows me to set prices more competitively with the big businesses while increasing my profit margin. Plain and simple, it’s very difficult for the 99.9% of small businesses to compete with the .01% big business on a good day. Add a 2-year pandemic and the resulting supply chain issues, staffing issues, economic inflation and, we’re fighting for our lives.

So, what’s my point? Again, easy answer, we, the small business owner, need more than a “shop small” reminder on the last Saturday of November each year. Small business needs us, the consumer, 365 days each and every year and I’m prepared to share several suggestions on how we all can do better by our committed, talented, hard-working small business owners.

Referrals- using my own small business as an example, I realize not everyone is interested in candle making supplies, make your own soy candle kits, fragrance oils, etc. Many, however, are interested in purchasing candles and gifts or may be in the market for personalized artisan favors for special events and business promotions. If you know someone who has a small business, take a couple of minutes to understand what they do and help spread the word. “That’s awesome that your daughter is getting married this summer! I know of a place that has an area where the bridal party can make their own bath and spa favors for the shower/wedding and they can even bring their own food and drinks?” “Oh, they don’t want to have a favor making party? Well, guess what, they’ll make them for you too! All you have to do is schedule a consultation appointment and they’ll craft a comprehensive quote”. Now, that might be a little above and beyond but, you get the idea. I challenge everyone to refer just one small business this week. 

Engagement- again, everyone uses social media for different reasons and, some don’t feel comfortable sharing business posts, recommending business pages, etc. Sharing IS caring but, if you don’t want to share then, keep in mind, an occasional comment on social media posts goes a LONG way. Leave a legit good review after a good experience. If your experience didn’t quite meet your expectations, reach out to the small business owner and allow them to address it before leaving a review that may negatively impact their business. Most small business owners count on the honest feedback of their customers. How else do we know what our customers love, don't care for or how to adjust?

Shop Small 365- don’t wait for Small Business Saturday to look for the small businesses, try a new small business each week. Try a local bakery before buying a cake from a large chain. Many local bakeries and small businesses offer curbside pick-up and are part of delivery services for convenience. Sure, it’s quick and easy to Prime a gift to someone but, take a look at who the seller is as, there are plenty of small business owners selling through Amazon. Look for local businesses who deliver and ship. Any one of the artisans who sell their products through my shop would be more than thrilled to know that someone chose their hand-poured candle, soap, gift set, etc. over something made in a factory with lower quality and less eco-friendly ingredients. Keep in mind that many chain restaurants can also be small businesses, as a franchise. I don’t feel a bit guilty for my weekly Jersey Mike’s grilled chicken and portabella sub because, I know that business is owned by a person, who's invested and needs to pay the bills as well as their employees. Oh, and if you're into subscription boxes, try one from a small business before a large chain (psst, coming soon here at Silver Moon).

Think Outside of the Box- the COVID pandemic has taught us that we are capable of adapting in ways we never imagined possible. It also showed us there are multiple and innovative ways to do pretty much anything successfully. Again, using my business as an example, if you want to make your own soy candles but, don’t feel comfortable coming to the store for a class or a party, set it up remotely. Just last week I did a corporate teambuilding “make your own soy candle” event remotely and it was great! Point is, with a little imagination, almost anything is possible.

If nothing else, always remember that our local economy needs that backbone provided by small business. I’d love to see some comments with any other ideas on how we can keep our local economies upright.  


Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published