By Mike Azzara | American Express Credit Intel Freelance Contributor
7 Min Read | June 29, 2020 in Cards
Nearly all U.S. businesses are small (fewer than 500 employees), and as a group they’re considered critically important to economic health.
But they’re challenged now more than ever in the aftermath of the early 2020 economic downturn.
Many Americans are directing more of their spending toward local small businesses.
Sometimes, we’re doing it out of a sense of community support; and sometimes, because these are the shops that were there for us in the past—and we want them there when we need them next.
The importance of small businesses to the American economy has been widely discussed by U.S. economists. But what about the importance of small shops to American people? The desire to help our favorite trusted small business, from restaurants to yoga instructors, auto mechanics, landscapers, lighting stores, and you name it, is more apparent now than ever.
I called them “trusted” because that’s the word that jumped out of the feedback I received from an informal survey of friends and colleagues, asking for how they’re showing support for small businesses, and why. I was surprised by the number of creative ways people are showing support. Those ways are listed below, along with some of the stories behind them.
But first, you may also be surprised to learn that the nearly 31 million American small businesses make up 99.9% of all U.S. businesses and employ 59.9 million people (47.3% of all American workers), according to the U.S. Small Business Administration’s 2019 Small Business Profile.1 No wonder small businesses are often called the backbone of local communities. Small businesses are also widely acclaimed to be the economy’s primary innovation engine and sources of new job growth.
Besides acknowledging small business’ “backbone” role in their communities, the approximately two dozen respondents to my survey shared stories of small local shops’ quality and dedication to customers, craft, and service—not to mention their resilience to innovate in the face of the early 2020 downturn. And yes, trust. All of that inspired the many ways those friends and colleagues have found to support their local small business communities.
Supporting small businesses has become a way of life for many Americans—as well as a key initiative for many American companies. For example, in response to the challenges facing small businesses throughout the country, American Express has announced a limited-time Shop Small® offer where Card Members can earn cash back in the form of a statement credit for spending at eligible small businesses. But more on that later.
Meanwhile, here’s a roundup of other ideas for how you can support local small businesses, from my survey plus web research:
Small businesses are the backbone of local communities and an important source of innovation and job growth. But many are under greater pressure as a result of the early 2020 health crisis and economic downturn. If you have the financial means, and wish to support a favorite local small business, these tips and examples can provide suggestions and help to spark your own ideas.