Let’s Make Shopping Small a Way of Life – Not an Event

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Annually, Small Business Saturday gives consumers the opportunity to get reacquainted with companies that wear the owners’ name on the storefront, at least figuratively.  A couple of days ago, we experienced the fourth annual Small Business Saturday, always sandwiched between Black Friday and Cyber Monday (which is today), two of the biggest shopping days of the year.  While these events are promoted as ideal for holiday gift buying, many consumers are out shopping for themselves as many of the deals are just too irresistible.

Unlike Black Friday and Cyber Monday, however, Small Business Saturday stands out as a shopping opportunity with a vital message.

The nation’s small businesses who participate in Small Business Saturday certainly put their products and services on sale to draw consumers into their shops and to their web sites on the Saturday following Thanksgiving.  But it’s the opportunity for merchants to remind customers why it pays to  “shop small” not only once a year, but throughout the year, that brings special meaning to Small Business Saturday.  The day isn’t only about buying more stuff.  It’s also about building awareness among American consumers of the critical role small businesses play in the US economy and a reminder that the finest products and services aren’t necessarily mass-produced and mass-merchandised.

A few facts from various sources about the significance of small businesses to the economy:

  • Small businesses accounted for 63 percent of the net new jobs created between 1993 and mid-2013 (or 14.3 million of the 22.9 million net new jobs). Since the end of the Great Recession (from mid-2009 to mid-2013), small firms accounted for 60 percent of the net new jobs. Small firms in the 20-499 employee category led job creation.
  • Employer firms with fewer than 100 workers employ about 35 percent of the private sector payroll.  Those with less than 20 workers employ about 18 percent.
  • Of high patenting firms (15 or more patents in a four-year period), small businesses produced 16 times more patents per employee than large patenting firms.
  • About half of the US working population are employed by a small business, and
  • More than 540,00 new businesses are started every month.  540,000.  Every month.

Beyond the significant economic contributions small businesses make, there are myriad other benefits big businesses simply can’t compete with.  For example, CEOs of many small businesses accept phone calls from customers, no matter how small.  Social media interactions are their own.  They are on a first name basis with many of their customers, and they learn the names of the kids too. The CEO of a small business is familiar with every detail and nuance of their business because at some point they wore every possible hat in the firm, from receptionist to book-keeper to product manager to head of manufacturing.

Theirs is the one throat to choke should something go wrong. And they’re present to reward an employee when she/he exceeds a customer’s expectations.

For a small business owner, customer service is a way of life — not a department. And the benefits of their care and passion and sweat equity are reaped by their clients.

So whether it be a coffee shop, a hardware store, a restaurant, a yoga studio, a law firm, a clothing store, an advertising firm or daresay, a public relations agency, look for opportunities to shop small throughout this holiday season and through 2015. In most cases, you’ll experience the level of service you’ve been dreaming about.

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