Do Americans Support Small Business?

In an age when ecommerce and big box stores dominate the conversation when it comes to shopping, it’s natural to overlook the important role small businesses play in our local economies.  “Fortunately, most Americans have not overlooked it”, Bridget Weston, Acting CEO of the SCORE Association, reported recently.   In fact, according to SCORE’s latest infographic, “How Do Americans Support Small Businesses?”, 91 percent of Americans patronize a small business at least once a week.

 A small business is defined as one that has fewer than 500 employees.   Statistics also show that nearly half of American consumers (47%) go so far as to frequent small businesses between two and four times a week. Another 17% visit local businesses even more than that.

 Consumers’ Favorite Small Business Destinations

Food and beverage businesses are Americans’ favorite destinations with 77% of them patronizing independently owned bakeries, restaurants, bars and pubs. Clothing, accessory and shoe stores are next at 40%, while bookstores (32%) and gift, novelty and souvenir stores (30%) round out the list.

 Americans’ support for small businesses makes a lot of sense. Besides being the nation’s top employers, small businesses are where we gather to see our friends and neighbors. It’s where we get to know one another and build relationships. Small businesses tend to be more attentive to customers, thus they deliver a higher level of customer service.

 The Economic Impact of Small Businesses

Because an average two-thirds of every dollar ($0.67) spent at small businesses in the U.S. stays in the local community, consumers’ local impact during the important holiday shopping season could be significant. Further, every dollar spent at small businesses creates an additional 50 cents in local business activity as a result of employee spending and businesses purchasing local goods and services, according to the Small Business Economic Impact Study from American Express.

 The Power of Small Business Saturday

This year, Small Business Saturday is on Nov. 30 and will mark the end of National Entrepreneur Month. American Express created Small Business Saturday in 2010 as a way to increase revenue for small businesses, and nine years later, the tradition has stuck.

Held on the Saturday after Black Friday every year, Small Business Saturday is incredibly popular with consumers. Last year, 97% of consumers said Small Business Saturday has had a positive impact on their communities, and 80% said they were planning to shop at independently owned retailers or restaurants on that day. Another 59% said they planned to shop online—but still patronize local businesses.

Suggestions:  Small Business Saturday is a great way for small businesses to build relationships with and sell products to the consumers living in their communities.  But what if you are a service-based business? Most people think of this as the rallying cry to encourage communities to support the mom-and-pop retailers in their towns. But local service-based businesses can be a part of the Small Business Saturday, too.

  • Partner with a local retail business. Explore opportunities with a brick-andmortar retail business that offers products that are somehow related to your services and agree to cross-promote your companies as Small Business Saturday approaches.  Even if there isn’t a nearby retail business that’s a direct complement to your services business, you can still explore a marketing partnership based on your shared experience of serving your local community.
  • Find creative ways to support each other in the spirit of Small Business Saturday.  What you do to help each other in the name of Small Business Saturday will be a collaborative effort. Plan some time to talk it over and get creative.  Agree to raise awareness of each other’s businesses via social media in the weeks leading up to Small Business Saturday, and place your print marketing materials at your retail partner’s location.
  • Consider offering your retail partner’s customers an exclusive deal or enter them in a drawing for a free consultation (or some other perk that will introduce them to your services).
  • Be present at your retail partner's location to help on-site that day by welcoming customers, providing complimentary refreshments, or assisting with any other Small Business Saturday activities planned for the day.

Walk the Walk, Don’t Just Talk the Talk. As a public proponent of Small Business Saturday, it’s important to not only encourage others to support small businesses but also to show that you practice what you’re preaching. In your marketing efforts online, consider including brief video clips of your visits to local retailers and tagging businesses in your social media posts to give them kudos and more exposure.  By actively doing business with local companies and calling them out for a job well done, you’ll generate goodwill and put yourself in a better position to receive referrals from them. Best of all, those benefits can stretch far beyond Small Business Saturday.

About the Author(s)

Dean Swanson

Dean is a Certified SCORE Mentor and former SCORE Chapter Chair, District Director, and Regional Vice President for the North West Region, and has developed and managed many businesses. The Rochester Post Bulletin publishes his weekly article on a topic geared toward the small business community. The articles here are printed in their entirety.

Certified SCORE Mentor for the Southeast Minnesota Chapter
Popularity of Small Businesses