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BizX Community | Small Business Weekend

Small Business Saturday 2021...Let's All Join Forces

November 27, 2021 | Written by Bob Bagga

It’s safe to say that the power of small businesses is one of the most underestimated and misunderstood concepts today.

Small businesses, like so many in our barter network, too often get pigeonholed as tiny “mom-and-pop” stores in need of attention or charity compared to the big brick-and-mortar stores. That’s not entirely untrue – small businesses can be a one-person business the size of a 3x5 cart that’s squeezed into the sidewalk between where residents walk and where cars roll by. And yes, especially in times like we’ve experienced since early 2020, small businesses do need our help.

But when taken together, small businesses become a behemoth: the 31.7 million small businesses in the U.S. make up for 99.9% of all businesses, accounting for nearly 65% of all new jobs in the U.S. These small businesses make up the fabric of our community, and it’s heartening to remember numbers like the above while facing constant existential threats from Amazon, Walmart, Target and the like.

What is often lost amid the conversations about those massive corporations—how much to regulate them, how to help level the playing field for small businesses, etc.—is the reality that they were all small businesses once dealing with the same growing pains and struggles that you might be.

Before Amazon was the world’s largest retailer, an employee would ring a bell in their office every time a purchase was made, and the team would gather around the computer to see if they knew the customer. Meanwhile, the company’s servers required so much power that Jeff Bezos and his wife couldn’t run a vacuum or hair dryer without blowing a fuse.

I’m not sharing these stories for the sake of mythologizing, but rather because this sounds like so many of the small businesses I know and work with in the BizX community. Amazon and Walmart won’t reign supreme forever, and the smartest and most strategic small businesses won’t stay small forever.

It’s been reported that 91% of the time, consumers will opt to shop at small businesses when convenient, and 74% look for ways to support small businesses even if it’s not particularly convenient.

This isn’t just a set of talking points for me. I am who I am thanks to small businesses; I’ve worked for them, started them, and currently am the CEO of a small business that provides an ecosystem for other small businesses to connect with each other.

This is about much more than just me though; small businesses are the ones out there sponsoring Little League teams, funding PTAs, working with local charities and giving back on the most grassroots level possible. They build relationships with other small business owners along with their neighbors and community leaders, which is as much a part of the entrepreneurial spirit as coming up with a good business idea.

It may not seem like it if you’re glued to CNBC and Bloomberg all day, but our country’s biggest innovations and partnerships are seeded in relationships between small businesses like these.

Earlier this year during Small Business Week, my company shared a number of stories from small businesses that we work with, filled with anecdotes, wisdom and advice for others. This was a particularly reflective week for many small business owners, given how much of their livelihood was upended in the last year.

Outside of those who run small businesses, I saw an endless stream of community leaders and politicians affirming their unending support for small businesses. But the more of these messages I saw, the more I wondered what would become of these words by the following week. Did we keep that sentiment alive or simply return to the big box chains for groceries and household items?

I’m writing this now on Small Business Saturday to remind us all to keep that spirit alive and do our part to shop local in order to keep the vital fabric of America’s main streets alive for decades to come. Small businesses provide the pulse for our country – keeping it moving forward, letting us know what people need and want, sharing our vastly different cultures, and so on.

So spend some time this winter stopping by businesses that have likely been hurting the past two years. Don’t forget the always-growing number of online small businesses either.

Additionally, gift cards are a great way to support businesses even if you don’t necessarily need their services right that moment; whether they’re for wineries, cafes, restaurants, or spas, these can be used to reward employees or stakeholders if you don’t end up using them yourself.

If we all just took 10% of our purchases from larger retailers, how much business would that lead back to small businesses? And from there, I’m confident that if we can do 10%, we can do 20% and really form a movement.

Whether it’s Small Business Saturday or any day, you should always be thinking about what you’re going to do to support small business - the fabric of our communities and the heartbeat of our country. And if you are a business owner, keep pushing, keep innovating, keep making connections, and always remember where you started out.

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