This year marks the fourth Small Business Saturday, a shopping holiday following “Black Friday” with a mission to steer holiday shoppers towards small and local businesses instead of national, “big box” retailers. The holiday was conceived by American Express in 2010 as a promotional campaign, but it soon took on a life of its own as thousands of small businesses and consumers joined in, and it has grown ever since. This is a very positive development, as Small Business Saturday brings awareness to businesses which often have limited advertising budgets.
Perception is very important in business. Customers and clients will make a decision on where they spend their money based on level of comfort or simplicity just as much as for reasons of value or service. Beyond mere comfort or simplicity, people tend to simply go with the choice that has been validated by others and this is one area where small businesses have to spend a lot of time and energy to improve their lot. For those consumers who do choose a small business, the rewards can be great, especially when it comes to great personalized service. However, there can also be a downside of this great service and that is when customers feel comfortable to the point that they forget it is a business arrangement.
And there are also economic benefits, as small businesses employ about 50 percent of all private sector workers, including about 40 percent of high tech workers. Over 60 percent of net new jobs created over the last decade have been by startups and small businesses.
Working in concert with the small business movement is the “buy local” movement. Here, you have what is called the “local multiplier effect” where buying from a local, independent small business creates a ripple effect which helps to strengthen the local economy at a much higher rate than larger corporate chains. Further, independent businesses help keep communities distinct and unique, with products tailored to the interests and needs of local citizens.