Firmly sandwiched between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Small Business Saturday celebrates the role of businesses who employ half of all workers and represent over $6 trillion dollars of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) defines a small business concern “as one that is independently owned and operated, is organized for profit, and is not dominant in its field. Depending on the industry, size standard eligibility is based on the average number of employees for the preceding twelve months or on sales volume averaged over a three-year period.” Depending on the industry, a small business could have up to 1,500 employees by their definition.
Steve Cooper, in his insightful article on Forbes.com entitled, “The Government Definition of Small Business is B.S.,” reports that 73.2% of small businesses are sole proprietors and 52% are home-based businesses (according to the SBA).
Perhaps the best reason for patronizing your local small businesses is that over 70% of the money you spend stays in your community. These are the folks that hire local people, support local charities, and provide community leadership by serving in service clubs, non-profit organizations, and local government. Among the businesses I visited today….
Candy-Rama is owned by my friends Carol and Bob Smith. Bob might be best known for his “you-can-see-me-coming, loud” sports jackets; but one of my favorite things about Bob is that he volunteers as an auctioneer at the Sexual Assault Resource and Counseling Center’s Monte Carlo Night every year – with flair! Richard Wertz (photo above) is serving his third consecutive term on the Lebanon City Council and is an active member of the Lebanon Valley Sertoma (SERviceTOMAnkind). That club, comprised of people like Rich, has raised well over $100,000 for the speech and hearing department of Good Samaritan Hospital; those gifts have allowed this small town health organization to have one of the top infant hearing testing programs in Pennsylvania (with the active assistance of Wertz’s wife, Dr. Carla Pielmeier, who heads that hospital department).
While I was at the Lebanon Farmer’s Market, I ran into entrepreneur Dave DiNunzio, who owns several businesses in Lebanon and is heavily involved in Christian outreach programs throughout the county. Dave never fails to ask me about my husband’s health and jokes with me about how many times he has repaired a certain pair of penny loafers.
Upstairs at the market, I stopped by the Lebanon Picture Frame and Fine Art Gallery to drop off a print to be framed. Owner Melody Vincent was unfailingly patient with me as I selected a mat and frame for a cherished watercolor of lupines blooming in a Prince Edward Island field. Not too long ago, Mel graciously hosted a Lebanon Valley Chamber of Commerce networking event for the Women in Business Committee at her gallery; having our conversations nestled among the handiwork of Lebanon County craftsmen provided a perfect setting for creating and building new business relationships.
I visited B.T. O’Donnell Goldsmith Jewelers today, and talked with Brian and his son, Andrew while I dropped off my watch for cleaning and a new battery. Brian designed a beautiful ring for my nephew, who proposed to his gal on bended knee with that token of love in his hand. This jeweler also supported one of my favorite charities by providing a no cost valuation on an heirloom donated to a non-profit.
Down the street, the Yongs own a dry cleaning establishment in Lebanon’s Quentin Circle; Mrs. Yong’s sewing machine works better than my old, reliable Bernini – and I’ve been keeping her busy taking in my slacks lately (thanks to an ongoing weight loss regimen). She greets me, by name, upon arrival and efficiently meets whatever my need of the day is; they are two of the hardest working people I know.
These entrepreneurs are representative of the 30 million small business owners in the United States. These hardworking business people are the ones paying a 15% self-employment tax for the privilege of working for themselves, in addition to taxes which support the creation and maintenance of our infrastructure and public services. Join the throng of supporters for small businesses that undergird our communities and economy. In case you need a little more persuading, perhaps this infographic from American Express (a co-founder of Small Business Saturday) will bring you over to the “light side.”