With small business there’s no finish line, just mile markers along the way

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In honor of this week of giving thanks and just in time for Small Business Saturday (that would this Saturday, November 26th), here are my Top Five Small Business Thanks ‘Givings:’

#1        They create jobs.
Too often, small business is overlooked for being the economic engine that it is. Sure, we love our big businesses, and even our big box stores, but when it comes to employment the big guys simply can’t compete. Did you know that in the Greater Susquehanna Valley 94% of employers are small businesses. Nationally, that number jumps 99.7%. Locally, 45% of private payrolls and 87% of all new jobs created came from small businesses.
Small businesses create the economic backbone of our valley, they are labs of entrepreneurship and innovation, and are key in growing our local economy and to the prosperity of every person living here.

#2        Small businesses help our local economy
Sevenfold is the term that I hear Mark Lawrence utter regularly on his highly popular radio show: On The Mark. The point that Mark is making is that a dollar spent locally will turn itself over 7 times while building our local economy each time it does. Think about it, local small business owners tend to purchase items and services from other small businesses. Local businesses almost always have local suppliers, and often these small businesses will market in locally made goods and hire locals to help them serve their customers.

In addition to aiding our local economy, small businesses give back to their local communities through donations of their time and talents. When small businesses do well, they give, often very graciously, to local charitable causes. According to the National Federation of Independent Business’ (NFIB) annual poll, 91% of small business give back to their local communities via direct-cash donations or through in-kind contributions. Just about this same number have employees and owners who give their time to good causes. More than half of small businesses do all three.

#3        Small businesses are unique.
I’m just guessing here, but I can’t think of a single local small business whose business plan is built on ‘being just like everyone else.’ There’s nothing wrong with a ‘standard business,’ such as a jewelry store, a bakery, a home construction firm, or even a tavern. But this Saturday do me a favor, stop in at Foss Jewelers in Selinsgrove, grab a goodie at the Gable House in Mifflinburg, put a call into Diversified Construction-an aging in place company located in Hummels Wharf, or maybe end your day at Oliver’s in Shamokin. Then please let me know about the unique experiences you encountered. Not to mention, the delicious tastes, beautiful artistry, and the world-class customer service that came your way.

You will discover first-hand the importance of Small Business Saturday through the tastes, sounds, sights, and uniqueness of what Greater Susquehanna Valley small businesses offer top their customers each-and-every day.

#4        Small business is a craft
It takes a lot of skill to be a successful small businessperson. One of the aspects about small business which is far too often overlooked is the expertise that is contained within each one. When dealing with a small businessperson a customer gets something that big businesses seldom offer and that the world wide web can’t offer and that is access to expertise. Starting and maintaining a small business requires that the business owner to invest hours, weeks, and some cases years in learning their trade and everything there is to know about their products and services. As craftsmen, these folks are typically more than willing to share their expertise so that their customers can enjoy their product or service as much as they do in crafting it.

#5        Small businesses create competition, provide service, and keep it green
Lately, or so it seems, we’ve been reminded daily of how bad monopolies are when we need them the most. Monolithic supply chains have nearly brought us to our knees in terms of delayed deliveries and out-of-control inflation. Small businesses are more adaptable and agile. Therefore, they are naturally able to control costs by modifying their processes and products. They can innovate in ways that bigger businesses, with a single method of doing things, simply can’t. This all leads to competition. Competition modifies and regulates large cost increases and service disruptions.

Let’s be honest, when it comes to service there’s no comparison, small business wins. This is understandable when you consider the ‘appetite’ issue. What I mean by appetite is that large corporations, many with nearly unlimited financial resources, don’t have service at the core of their business operations. For them, it’s all about volume. No small business can be successful based on volume, alone. They must provide quality service, or they can’t and won’t survive.

So, what’s ‘green’ have to do with it? Lots. Small businesses are more likely to utilize local resources. That means less long-distance trips, less idling at the dock, and they’re local which means less traveling to shop or to access services. Each of these is a good thing. Another aspect to big box stores is—they’re big. This means more land is gobbled up and more chance of negative impact ranging from utility use to storm water runoff and flooding.
Shopping and accessing services downtown, along the Greater Susquehanna Valley’s many Main Streets, is both relaxing and rewarding. And the stroll will do us all, particularly our Small Businesses, a world of good.
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