Nothing Small About It

The Lodge in the East Village. 

The Lodge in the East Village. 

I’ve had an issue with the term “small business” since I was the small business editor at Reuters. It seems sort of unsexy, and it also seems to minimize the incredible amount of work that small business owners and entrepreneurs put into their organizations. Not to mention it’s vague and incredibly misrepresentative.

The truth is of course that small business is actually big business. So at Reuters, we struggled with a way to rebrand the small business section. “Entrepreneurial” seemed accurate but clunky. In the media landscape now, Bloomberg’s “Enterprise” vertical is probably the best named small business section I’ve seen. We never ended up changing the name because, well, people know small business. It means something. And today, on Small Business Saturday, it means something more. 

Small Business is not only big today, it’s also becoming sort of sexy. Look at the #shopsmall hashtag on Instagram and the people proudly showing their support. Look at all the great pop-up events like American Field, Northern Grade and the Pop-Up Flea that have become the true arbiters of cool. And look at all the big brands partnering with small makers to get some indie cred.  

Small Business is having a big moment right now, for obvious reasons. People are yearning for something real, products with stories and connections to the makers of those makers. This is of course the lifeblood of small business. It’s what makes them special, and well, cool. It’s also what this blog is all about.

But it’s not just about being cool or a moment of hype. It’s also about making real money, creating jobs and improving the economy. And small businesses are doing that in spades. 

More than half the working population in the U.S. works for small businesses. There are some 28 million small businesses in the country. And in New York, for example, a report from the Center for Urban Future found that “businesses with 0 to 4 employees had a net gain of 31,421 jobs between 2000 and 2013 while businesses with more than 500 employees had a net loss of 5,022 jobs,” and, “that companies with fewer than 50 employees accounted for 97.7 percent of the growth in businesses citywide between 2000 and 2013.”

Small businesses, it turns out, are carrying more weight than big businesses in a lot of ways. So here’s to them, today, and tomorrow and the rest of the year. Keep it small and shop them every time you can.