Imagine you’re the owner of a small business attending an event with lots of other small business owners. Most of them, you’ve never met.
It’s a diverse group of people: male and female, old and young, black and white. Their businesses are diverse too: bakery, craft & hobby, shoe store, flea market, restaurant, fitness centers, fashion boutiques and more. Some have been in business just over one year, some over thirty.
Everyone is here for the WRTA Give Small Business a Lift awareness campaign kickoff. At first it seems like you don’t have much in common with the others. They are random strangers. But as you hear their stories, you realize there is a connection between all the business owners. You’ve all faced many of the same problems, you’ve all put in long hours.
Upon recognizing this, these random strangers seem like they are part of be some sort of extended family. This business event is starting to seem more like a family reunion rather than a first-time meeting.
At this event, your new “family members” included the dozen honored businesses gathered for the kickoff of the inaugural WRTA Give Small Business a Lift campaign held April 28:
- Cornersburg Italian Specialties,
- Peaberry’s Cafe,
- One Step Forward,
- The Youngstown Flea,
- Next Level Fitness Academy,
- Sarah’s Ceramics,
- Send It Packin’,
- Fancey’s Boutique,
- The TakeOut,
- Laugh and Learn Academy
- Sugarpan Bakery.
They were chosen as examples of the Mahoning Valley entrepreneurial spirit and work ethic.
Small business has a big impact on the local economy. Western Reserve Transit Authority (WRTA) provides transportation to a good amount of the workforce and customers of these businesses. WRTA invested in the campaign to encourage Valley residents to support local small business.
WRTA began promoting and sharing the stories of local small businesses on buses, social media, TV and more May 1st — in coordination with National Small Business Week to give the businesses added exposure. At the same time, WRTA is asking you to “Give local small business a lift!” by patronizing these businesses.
SMALL BUSINESS = BIG RISK
It’s easy to start a business, but it’s not easy to stay in business…and succeed. When you are just starting out in business, you think all you need is the “Two P’s” (Passion and a Plan). But any successful small business owner knows you need a third “P” — Perseverance. Staying in business, and successfully growing it, can be very challenging.
According to the SBA, there are nearly 32 million small businesses in the U.S. That’s a huge number. But that number would be larger if it wasn’t for the substantial failure rate.
Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows 20% of U.S. small businesses fail within the first year. 50% fail by the end of their fifth year. After 10 years, almost 66% have disappeared. Only one in three make it in the long run. Two-thirds of small businesses eventually fail. That makes it a pretty risky investment.
WHY START A BUSINESS?
With such high risks, why would anyone start a small business? If you asked the twelve honored business owners at the kickoff, if you asked Andrea Wood, publisher of The Business Journal (campaign co-sponsor), or if you asked me, you might be surprised to learn that none of us were seeking fame and fortune. Most small businesses are started by people who simply want to be successful at doing something they like to do.
Does that sound foolish? Are we just an extended family of crazy risk-takers? Maybe. But we have great reunions.