By Hope Belli Tinney, Washington Small Business Development Center
When the lists of “best places to live” are compiled, communities that top the lists often share two qualities: they have a thriving downtown and active civic engagement. Not coincidentally, small business owners are key to both.
According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, there are 30.2 million small businesses in the U.S., which account for 99.9 percent of all businesses. Small businesses employ about 59 million people, or about 48 percent of the workforce.
In addition, small businesses support their communities in myriad ways, including providing jobs, generating sales tax revenue and giving of cash, time or goods to support local nonprofits or other community groups.
Saturday, Nov. 24, is national Small Business Saturday and shoppers have an opportunity to pay it forward or pay it back by shopping at their local small businesses.
“When small businesses succeed, local communities thrive,” said Duane Fladland, state director of the Washington Small Business Development Center (SBDC). The Washington SBDC is a publicly funded network of more than two dozen business advisors working one‑on‑one with small business owners in communities across the state to help them start, grow or buy/sell a business.
According to Fladland, small businesses create jobs, drive innovation, provide opportunities for entrepreneurs — including women and minorities — to achieve financial success and independence, and often adapt quickly and creatively to changes in the economy.
In addition, he said, “they are often the first to offer help when a community need arises.” From uniforms for youth sports teams to prizes for sober grad night or donations for nonprofit fundraising events, small businesses make huge contributions to community events.
For instance, Danny House, the SBA’s 2018 Small Business Person of the Year for the Seattle region, has used the success of his sausage and gift basket business to support schools and other nonprofits. During the past five years, he has donated more than 1,000 meals to a local school fundraising event, matched local community donations for the last three years for full-ride scholarships for local trade school students, and donated more than $41,000 to local events, foundations and fundraisers.
Small Business Saturday, which is always the Saturday after Thanksgiving, is supported by a large coalition of businesses, economic development agencies and small business advocates, including the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and America’s Small Business Development Centers (ASBDC). American Express is a major sponsor of a variety of promotions, events and celebrations being held across the country.
The Washington SBDC provides no‑cost, one‑on‑one, confidential advising to small business owners who want to start, grow or transition their business. The Washington SBDC is hosted by Washington State University and receives major support from the SBA. Washington SBDCs also receive support from local community colleges, economic development groups and civic or business groups.
Find more information about the Washington SBDC.
If you are looking for a small business owner to profile in advance of Small Business Saturday, your local SBDC business advisor is a great resource for finding people who are contributing to their communities in truly remarkable ways. You can find the advisor in your area.