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Nurturing Our Small Business Community

A colorful neon sign says OPEN.

Every November, we celebrate National Small Business Saturday in which consumers are encouraged to shop small for the holidays. However, small businesses and all they do for the community should be celebrated, supported, and focused on every day of the year.

As an industry, small business is not that small. According to the Small Business Development Center (SBDC), small businesses are credited with just under two-thirds (63 percent) of the new jobs created between 1995-2021. They also employ just under 47 percent of private sector employees. As an industry, small businesses employ more than many other industries, making small businesses one of the largest industries in the nation. 

By shopping small, using local services, and supporting your local businesses, you are supporting your community. Don’t forget the money you spend with these companies is multiplied by that small business supporting another local business or organization. Plus, the sales taxes you pay go to fund your local schools, parks, roads, sidewalks, and your public service workers. By investing in small businesses, you are investing in your community. 

It is great to see large private businesses and public organizations like municipalities and higher education institutions support local and small for their goods and services. However, remember that many of our small and startup businesses don’t always have the capital and cash flow for 90-day payments if that is your policy. We encourage our larger companies to evaluate their payment process and see if there is a way to process payments in 30 days especially for our local small businesses.

Don’t forget that many small businesses are online, too. We understand the convenience of shopping online with everyone’s busy life, and it is always easy to go to certain online retailers. However, take a moment and look at your local small business’s online presence and how you can shop online directly with their company. You might be surprised how fast you received your items and the ease of finding that perfect item. 

Watering a plant that is a small business

There are a number of resources for our small businesses. You have access to counseling around topics such as human resources and financials. The Small Business Development Center, the REDI Hub, ProsperU, Missouri Women’s Business Center, and so many other organizations in Columbia are good resources to take advantage of. When it comes to funding and capital there are programs like the Revolving Loan Fund along with many resources from all of the banks and financial institutions in our community.

If you are looking for ways to build your network and customer base, the Columbia Chamber of Commerce has wonderful programs like our Small Business Committee, the Annual Small Business Fest, and our annual Showcase COMO. There are other small business benefits at the Columbia Chamber such as access to our Chamber Benefit Plan, which is health insurance specifically built for businesses of two to 49 employees. 

Columbia is constantly ranked as one of the best cities for small and startup businesses and has a long history of businesses being successful and growing locally. The only way this has been possible — and will continue to be successful — is because of you. Those of you who decide to call Columbia home for your business to start and grow, and to you who support your local small businesses by shopping with them or hiring them for all your needs.

Remember to think small every day!

Matt McCormick

Matt McCormick is the president and CEO of the Columbia Chamber of Commerce.

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