Small businesses make communities strong


It starts with a dream.

Unlike storybook tales, though, that’s not enough to breathe life into a small business.

These are stories of ups and downs, good and bad, trials and tribulation. There is a lot of hard work, physical and mental, between that dream and reality.

When it all gels — and sometimes it doesn’t (20 percent of startups fail within the first year) — it benefits all of us.

Small businesses are a lifeline for communities. Besides providing jobs for 77 million people nationwide, they boost and strengthen the economy.

According to the U.S. Small Business Association, small businesses generate about 64 percent of new jobs and their paychecks account for about 44 percent of all private payroll.

Studies show that $68 of every $100 spent at local small businesses flow back into the community, compared to $43 for large chain operations.

It’s about more than just dollars and cents, though. Small businesses provide opportunities for towns and cities to showcase what makes communities unique. They can provide everything from the practical to the eclectic, filling niches often not considered profitable enough for larger corporations to take on.

Small businesses are often willing to take chances, leading the way in innovation by putting ideas into action despite the potential challenge to the bottom line. Many small businesses end up growing and growing — at one time, computer powerhouse Microsoft, shoe behemoth Nike and ice cream superstars Ben & Jerry’s were all considered small businesses.

“Most small business owners are not particularly sophisticated business people. That’s not a criticism; they’re passionate about cutting hair or cooking food, and that’s why they got in the business, not because they have an MBA,” businessman Andrew Mason once said.

It’s always tough to go from tinkerer to CEO, and small businesses are finding plenty of pressures these days from outside forces such as online commerce or economic fluctuations.

There is a responsibility to people and communities. By supporting small businesses and recognizing the part they play, it is possible to nurture and help them grow.

National Small Business Week was officially recognized last week, but we should celebrate the role of small business each and every day. And as often as we can, we should patronize their shops spending money with the men and women who help to make our communities strong. And we should thank them for their efforts.

We certainly do.

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