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Natural Awakenings Twin Cities

The Importance of Small Business

Oct 30, 2014 12:17PM ● By N. Anderson and Jackie Flaherty

Everyone has utilized a product or service provided by a small business. Typical examples of small businesses include accountants, convenience stores, small shops such as bakeries and delis, massage therapists, hairdressers, lawyers, plumbers, electricians, day care providers, facility maintenance companies and everything in between.

Although small business owners face many challenges, there are also advantages to owning a small business. The main reason is that owners want to be their own bosses. The freedom to operate independently is both a reward and a burden for small business owners. They desire to take their own risks and reap the rewards of their efforts. Even though they work long hours and understand that ultimately their customers are their bosses, they have the satisfaction of making their own decisions.

There are many benefits of supporting local small businesses. They depend on the many resources that a community can supply. They hire other small business, such as architects, contractors, local advertisement agencies and accountants. Local small businesses also are more likely to supply locally produced products than chains are, ultimately benefiting and building their community. Small businesses, unlike big businesses, can adapt to changes as needed more quickly as they are not tied to any bureaucratic inertia. Small business owners tend to be intimate with their customers and clients, which results in greater accountability and maturity.

There are a number of ways to classify a small business. They are usually privately owned corporations, partnerships or sole proprietorships. In the United States, small business accounts for more than half of the non-farm, private gross domestic product and around half of the private sector employment. There are about 22 million small businesses and approximately 14,000 big businesses nationally. Small businesses employ more than half the work force. In short, small businesses pack a big punch and are an integral part of our country’s economy.

“We are trying to get people to think proactively so that small businesses do not close,” says Mary Hamel, executive director of Metro Independent Business Alliance. “If nothing else, it is in  their best economic interest to have a thriving independent retail sector in their neighborhood. This has been proven to translate into higher home values, and, of course, improves quality of life. Local businesses are the ones donating cider to the preschool holiday party, sponsoring your softball team and advertising in the local newspaper. Let’s show them how much they mean to us.”

Here are five organizations committed to promoting the local economy. Consider supporting them in and helping to create an active, vibrant local marketplace.

Small Business Saturday: Get up to $30 in free purchases when using an American Express card at participating local retailers on Small Business Saturday, November 29. American Express cards must be registered between November 16 and 29 to be eligible to receive the credit to an account after shopping at a registered local merchant. Shoppers should check with merchants before November 29 to ensure they are participating in this annual program.

Plaid Friday: This is a network of local independent businesses that have joined to encourage their community to support small retail stores while holiday shopping. Started in California in 2010, it has only recently begun in the Twin Cities. Its Facebook page offers more information and allows local retailers to sign up:

Metro Independent Business Association (IBA): This non-profit organization works to support and preserve locally owned, independent businesses in the Twin Cities. Its mission is to help the Twin Cities maintain its unique community character, provide continuing opportunities for entrepreneurs, build economic strength and create an environment where locally owned, independent businesses grow and flourish. This group consists of businesses as well as citizen members.

The three goals of MetroIBA are to promote local independents, educate consumers on the value of shopping locally and to improve conditions for local independents by influencing public policy.

3/50: The premise behind 3/50 is that if half of the employed U.S. population committed to purchasing a total of $50 (total) in products or services from three different local businesses, then our economy would grow by 42.6 million dollars in revenue for the year.

For every $100 spent at locally owned independent stores, $68 returns to the community through taxes, payroll and other expenditures. If that money is spent at a national chain, only $43 stays in the community. When the money is spent online, then nothing comes home.

Green Gifts Fair: Shoppers can support local business while being green. This annual event has demonstrations, workshops, food and green items for purchase. See the news brief for more information.

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