The "Small" of Business

Big things can come from small packages.

Apr 27, 2018 5:04 PM3 Minute Read

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    What constitutes "small" when it comes to business? The technical definition varies by industry and is based upon the number of employees or average annual receipts ( Business Table). While we formally define "small" by income or employees, let's be honest - there is nothing small about small businesses to their owners. When one's livelihood is tied to the success or failure of an endeavor, no one can call that weight small. As a society, we need to look beyond these businesses as siloed entities and focus on the broader picture of what small businesses provide to us.

    In order to understand this broader picture, we must acknowledge a distinction in the definition of "small:" size vs. impact. Dollars spent on small local businesses are more likely to stay local, boosting the area's economy, while significantly impacting individual residents and the community at large. These companies deliver more than products and services. Local businesses create local jobs, increase tax revenue, keep our downtowns thriving, foster the heart of community and attract new residents. Essentially, a dollar spent on a small, local business buys you more than a product - it enhances your neighborhood, providing lasting, perceptible returns on your investment. Small business impact on community can be huge.

    In addition to community impact, the true engines of innovation lie with small business. Their initiation and growth is crucial not just to founders' livelihoods, but also for the development of innovations the world has yet to realize. For one, businesses are often created as a direct result of a novel idea or a solution to a problem facing humans, animals or the environment. These ideas are incubated, grown and built upon by start-up firms all over the world, every day. Not only are small businesses rife with engines of innovation, their sheer design encourages continual development and refinement of offerings. Smaller firms are more change agile than larger organizations and are often connected more closely with the voices of their customers. This abundance of fresh ideas and operational agility enable them to develop, test and distribute new theories more easily.

    However, with minimal stature comes considerable risk. Large businesses hedge risk across thousands of employees and widely diverse business offerings. Due to massive production operations and broad distribution channels, these firms often offer lower costs per unit and consistently undercut smaller firms in the market. So, what can we do to help smaller businesses realize success?

    When small businesses provide uniquely innovative and personal goods or services that set them apart from big boxes, they make it worthwhile for we, the customers, to give a dollar to their cash register versus another. It is critical that consumers, investors and local communities recognize the value these companies deliver and support them when possible. In addition to dollars, many businesses rely on support, constructive feedback, and well-founded suggestions from their patrons. A word of encouragement in person, a positive review or a promotion on social media go a long way - but this type of support shouldn't begin and end on Small Business Saturday.

    While the nature and accessibility of todays global marketplace makes it easy for customers to take small businesses for granted and channel increasing amounts of their business to ever-more prevalent large global retailers, we must remember that investment in small business pays dividends in community enhancement and global innovation. Continue to support smaller and local businesses when they fit your needs - not just for their benefit but for yours, too.

    If you'd like to learn more about current statistics of small business success in America, we recommend Time: Small Business Growth

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