I remember growing up how small and local businesses were the "entrepreneurial thread" that held most small communities together, and provided countless jobs to its local citizens. "Mom and Pop" stores, as they were called back then, were found on just about every neighborhood corner, and infiltrated many of the prime business locations downtown, and later in trendy shopping malls. Most of these businesses were owned and/or operated by local citizens - many of whom were "handed down the keys" to their thriving business from generation to generation, or who saved and scrimped their hard earnings to open up their "dream business". From quaint general stores to stylish boutiques, small and local businesses were the "Norman Rockwell landscape" of small town America. Nowadays, however, the picture is not so nostalgic...
Until its demise in 1999 from Hurricane Floyd, Tarrytown Mall in my hometown of Rocky Mount, N.C. was home to many small, locally owned and operated businesses. It's closing was a huge loss to the community - both personally and financially.
Demise of the Small Business
According to some Gallop polls, small businesses have been dying out since 2009, and are on a steady decline. It goes on to state that the deaths of businesses are outnumbering the births of NEW businesses, as well. Just ask any small businessperson you know, and I'm sure they will concur that its becoming MORE and MORE challenging to keep their small business going each year. And unfortunately, many will tell you if things don't change, they will be forced to throw in the towel, as well. I'm not here to debate the reasons WHY small businesses are failing, but if you want a good perspective on some of the most current reasons, click here.
What I want to do in this blog post is to give PRAISE to all the small and local businesses I have been fortunate enough to design websites for, or work with them on other advertising and marketing efforts. It is my hopes in doing this, to bring more awareness to THEIR businesses, and stimulate their presence in our local community. It is also my way of giving back to a "forgotten segment" of our country that has made MY small business, LT Web Designs, a success for the past five years.
Paving a Small Business Future
Although I've lived and worked in other towns, I was born and raised in Rocky Mount, a once bustling and thriving small town community in Eastern N.C. From my first job at a locally owned McDonalds franchise, to working for local businesses in almost every industry you can imagine, my work experience and future work ethics were founded and molded in the local businesses who took a chance and hired me - oftentimes without any formal education or experience. I owe a lifetime of gratitude to these small and local businesses who took a chance on me, as they helped paved the way for me to become a successful entrepreneur today!
Today, I am richly blessed to have over 35 active website and social media clients (with MORE on the way), and am even MORE blessed to be able to call most of them close friends! It was my own father, who was a successful saleman for many years, who once gave me the sage advice to make your customers your friends FIRST, and then you'll NEVER have to sell another day in your life! It's true, because 90% of my clients were sent to me on a referral basis! (The other 10% I attribute to my Google listing - which I do NOT pay for! (Click here to see how YOU can rank higher in Google listings WITHOUT spending a dime, too!;)) I feel very grateful and honored that these hard working business men and women put their trust and faith in ME to design their websites, and help market their social media pages.
Small and local businesses often recruit and hire teens for part time work, and even depend on them for holiday and summer seasons for extra help without having to provide full time benefits. Most young people are happy for the opportunity and make great employees!
Recognizing Local Excellence
Time and space doesn't allow me to individually thank each and every one of my clients for not only their business, but their immense contribution to our community, but I would like to recognize them ALL as "businesses of excellence". Through their tireless efforts and determined ambition to succeed, they are keeping the small business dream alive and thriving in our community. They provide crucial job opportunities for young and old alike, endure countless budget and financial challenges, and juggle their many business obligations with the ever changing demands of family life. To say they "do it all" is an understatement, and only vaguely describes the "balancing act" they perform on a daily basis.
Small business owners are almost superhuman. They are the first to arrive, and many times the last to leave, and oftentimes the ONLY one to work! There are NO luxuries for the small business owner, unless its an uninterrupted lunch of more than just a pack of nabs and a diet Coke. They fight tirelessly for the right to continue on this steep and risky climb to success, digging their heels in deeper when times get tougher. They smile when they want to cry, laugh at themselves when they do something stupid, and fight constant "losing battles" every day.
But through it all, one thing remains consistent for all of these dedicated entrepreneurs - they wouldn't have it any other way! For every headache brings an "aha" moment of learning; every disappointment brings a new rising up of determination, and every sore muscle brings a satisfied feeling of a job well done. They give SO much, yet ask for so little, and we, as a community need to SHOW them MORE respect and appreciation by patronizing their businesses, sharing their posts on social media, and using their goods and services ourselves, whenever possible.
After all, if we don't help support our small and local businesses, their demise will come sooner than later, and we will ALL be at the mercy of big, impersonal corporations for all our daily consumer needs. Think about that the next time you're treated with indifference and disrespect at one of the "big box" stores!
A Slideshow Of Thanks
In an effort to say "thanks", and help promote all my active website clients, I have put together the slideshow below, with links to their websites. Each and every one of them are a VITAL part of my business AND our local business community, or the community in which they are located. Please take time to notice each one, visit their websites, and leave a short note of thanks in the comments below to let them know YOU appreciate their contributions to our community! And please support their businesses by visiting them for your consumer goods and services when possible! Thank you so much for helping to keep the American small business dream alive!!
Website designer, social media consultant, nature photographer and published author, with over 10 years experience in business advertising and marketing! LT Web Designs specializes in website design and social media marketing for small and local businesses in Eastern North Carolina.