Consider this: According to the Small Business Administration (SBA), only 40 percent of small businesses are profitable, and that is during “normal” economic times. During this unprecedented pandemic, thousands of people have lost their lives, and together we mourn for the families impacted so tragically. Thousands more have lost their jobs and are scraping to make ends meet. Many of these are small business owners and employees who do not have the resources to lose months of business and remain open. We must support them now more than ever.
As the former president and CEO of the DC Chamber for 13 years, our member base consisted of 60 percent small businesses, and their passion for community and economics was inspiring and drove the economic renaissance DC experienced in the early 2000s. These business owners took pride not only in their business and serving customers, but also quality of life including clean streets, vibrant and safe neighborhoods, bustling parks and immaculate homes and apartments.
In my current role as Managing Principal and CEO of Lang Strategies, many of my clients are also small businesses, yearning to develop their leadership skills, build their business and, of course, serve as a pillar in the community. They often work 18-hour days with limited resources but persevere because they have the will to grind through challenging times and succeed. Failure is not an option.
Yes, small businesses are the foundations of our communities, no matter where we live. While corporations look for the best business deal – and it is tough to blame them for focusing on their bottom line – small business owners remain in neighborhoods for generations if they receive support from the community. Hardware stores, bakeries, coffee shops, restaurants, bookstores, and so many other small businesses offer a personal touch when so much commerce is done online. These business owners bring growth and innovation to the community – the entrepreneurial spirit – and stimulate economic growth by employing people who may not be employable by larger companies and organizations.
Now, more than ever, is the time to support small businesses. Programs like the Treasury Department’s Paycheck Protection Program certainly help, but your patronage serves as the bridge to when businesses begin to reopen. There is no time to for these small business owners to sit back and wait for commerce to return to normal – they need it now, and they need our support.
According to an SBA report, small businesses create two-thirds of net new jobs and account for 44 percent of activity in the U.S. economy. If we don’t step up and support them today, when they need us the most, they may not be there when we need them in the future, and that would a devastating loss for all of us.