In recent years, shopping locally and buying from small businesses have been gaining popularity. Maybe you’ve already started to shop more consciously or thought about starting your own business, or maybe you already own one, and every year you hear about Small Business Week but aren’t quite sure what it represents. While the name provides a clue, Small Business Week is a time to celebrate our entrepreneurs and small firms throughout the country and recognize the importance of their significant contributions to our economy. With Small Business Week kicking off on April 29 this year and continuing through May 5th, there’s no better time to learn more about small business and how you can help your community by supporting them.
Small Business Week Represents More Businesses Than You Think
Small businesses represent a wide swath of companies in varying industries, from home-based individuals to manufacturing plants. In fact, small businesses account for most of the employers in the United States. The US Census Bureau reports that of the 5.83 million employer firms in the United States, 99.7 of these had fewer than 500 workers, and 89.4 percent had less than 20. This means that small business is more than just a small part of our economy- it’s a major driving force. If 500 workers does not sound small, it is important to know that the term is relative: the Small Business Administration sets the size standards for small businesses based on the industry they’re in, and that means that small businesses can range from a sole entrepreneur to firms with 1,500 employees. While this might seem as if it’s anything but small, remember that companies such as Wal-Mart employ 1.4 million individuals.
Small Business Impact is Anything But Small
Have you seen the unemployment rate drop, or personally know someone who was employed after looking for work during the recession? We have small businesses to thank. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’s Business Employment Dynamics, small businesses have created 8.3 million jobs since the end of the recession, 62% of all private sector jobs created. New small businesses are efficient job creators as well, with 13% of total job gains attributed to recent startups.
Small Businesses Drive Innovation
A 2008 study analyzing small business patents conducted at Rowan University found that “small businesses are much more likely to develop emerging technologies than large firms,” and that while small firms only accounted for 8% of all patents granted, they represented 24% of patents in the top 100 emerging clusters. Small businesses account for nearly 96% of firms in high-patenting manufacturing industries, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration. While this rate has held steady from 2007-2012, there was a marked increase in the share of payroll, employment, and receipts particularly among businesses making computers and computer equipment, communications equipment, and semiconductors and other electronic components.
How You Can Support Small Business
This Small Business Week, and hopefully every week after, think about how you can change your spending habits to support small businesses. The obvious way is to shop at small local retailers, but you can also promote this idea to those in your social circle. Share your products from small businesses on social media, and around holidays and birthdays ask for gifts from small shops. If you own a small business yourself, consider partnering with another small business to promote each other, offer deals, or organize events to connect small businesses with each other. Remember, every dollar you spend at a small business helps create jobs and betters your community, and thriving small businesses empower our economy.