Perhaps no one is more eager and excited to see 2020 in the rearview mirror than medical professionals, First Responders, and other essential workers who’ve battled Covid19 every day since the pandemic hit the U.S. They put their lives on the line for all of us caring for our most vulnerable, sick, and elderly with competence and compassion. Many of them held the hands of our loved ones who’ve because the pandemic prevented human contact between patients, family, and friends. We owe them a debt of gratitude for fulfilling their calling despite the worst of circumstances in many quarters without enough equipment, PPE, ICU units, etc. Applause to all of them and as vaccine numbers begin to climb maybe just maybe we will return to some sense of normalcy, but probably never to the degree, we were pre-Covid19.
There is another group that will be glad to see 2020 fade away and those are small business employees and owners. Undoubtedly academia is already studying the record number of local businesses forced to close their doors due to the inability to sell their goods or serve their customers on a regular basis, let alone the inability to draw upon huge reserves, or bond sales. Many of these businesses are/were family-owned through multiple generations. A few survived thanks to the charity of their neighbors and customers but most of them are closed for business. Each of them fought to the bitter end and if you listened closely they spoke of a deep-founded calling to provide for their employees and team members.
Hopefully in the months to come more loans, employment assistance, innovation, and creativity will prevent these wholesale closings and give way to new businesses, and enable many established ones to reopen their doors. There’s not a Baby Boomer alive who never heard stories from their grandparents and other family members about the economic destruction of the Great Depression. Now the Boomers are trying to explain the current crisis to theirs and will continue to do so in the future.
If you have never worked for a small, family-owned, business you may not understand what the fuss is all about. If you paid attention in economics class, or patronize local businesses regularly then you have some sense of what has happened and how challenging it has been for these businesses. Many have had no problem with their customers or products but shipping/logistic and supplier delays have hit them hard. The old adage, “necessity is the mother of invention and innovation,” is true and we have witnessed many startups providing services or goods that previously didn’t exist to keep small businesses going. According to the Small Business Administration, a small business is defined as a company with fewer than 500 employees and usually much less than that. According to the SBA, there were 30.7 million of them in 2019 comprising 99.9% of all American businesses. Let that number sink in, 99.9% of businesses! Small business is the backbone of the American economy. It’s not just a statement politicians make when they are canvassing small communities for votes. It’s true.
Nationwide on the whole small businesses provide an extraordinary tax base for schools, local government, libraries, hospitals, emergency services, and much more through employee and property taxes as well as various licenses to operate.
Working for a local, family-owned small business that specializes in helping small-medium-sized companies with their digital marketing efforts has been an education in small business life and appreciation for the dedication, commitment, and profound sense of calling these companies have to their community and customer base. Our company has made a profound effort and commitment to help small to medium companies grow through digital marketing. It has been rewarding and humbling to tell the story of these companies.
Every day of work could be the last for a small company employee. It’s true! No company is immune to the perils of economic destruction and doom. Unfortunately, small businesses do not have large capital investment accounts to draw from during economic downturns. Unlike large companies, they do not have vast amounts of real estate to put up against loans, or the ability to sell bonds publicly. They are dependent upon their customers and clients as well as local lending institutions and the Small Business Administration.
Not long ago we dealt with a difficult client. That is a bit too strong. How about a strongly opinionated client who knew little about digital marketing, SEO, content marketing, etc., but knew everything about their respective business, competition, and market. Voicing some concern about an increased sense of micro-management by the client, one of our partners reminding the team that this person was the subject matter expert and our assignment was to produce measurable results and provide value. He was 100% right! The client was engaged and learning about digital marketing. However, the client knew their market and business inside and out. Our role was not only to provide results but to educate.
The partner knew we had it within us to generate the measurable results the client needed and he was simply challenging us to dig deep for another locally-owned, small business. So we did, and they are still celebrating the results of new clientele, lead generation, and ongoing support of pre-existing clients.
As we approach 2021 with all of the prospects and hope of the New Year, dig deep and ask yourself how you can support locally owned small businesses. What in your life and work pattern can change to achieve this? Small businesses need community support because their work supports the community!
Monty Carter, Storyteller
Greer, SC 29651