Small businesses are the backbone of small towns and cities throughout the United States. It is the small, local, independent store owner, service provider and professional who are usually the movers and shakers in these communities. Take a look at any positive activity or progress happening in your local area and chances are a small business person is behind it or actively involved in moving the effort forward.
It is in everyone’s best interest that these small enterprises not only survive, but thrive. That is the guiding principle of a new on-line effort being driven by The 3/50 Project. This website explains their focus in detail, but the basic principle of the 3/50 Project is this: Pick 3 local businesses you would miss if they were gone, spend $50.00 per month in those businesses. Simple as that.
The 3/50 Project points out that for every $100 spent in locally owned independent stores, $68 returns to the community through taxes, payroll and other expenditures. If you spend that money in a national chain store (big box store) only $43 stays home. If you spend it online, $0 dollars stays in your community. That’s right ZERO dollars, the big nothing, the old donut hole…
Kind of easy to make the decision to support 3/50 when you ponder those numbers, isn’t it?
I want to thank The Supply Chick, Becky Flansburg for bringing the 3/50 Project to my attention. Becky is one of “those” people, you know the type: exhaustively positive, constantly chipper and always doing something to move herself (and those around her) forward.
Take 15 minutes today to visit The 3/50 Project and sign up. Then, next time you are out and about in your town, visit one of those small businesses that make your community unique. Take out your wallet and live a little.
The Wall Street Journal recently reported on small business trend that is becoming more popular in the current economy – providing volunteer or pro bono services to non-profit organizations in their communities in the hopes that the charity work will produce paying work in the future.
This particular strategy makes sense in today’s marketplace because the slower economy leaves excess capacity on the production floors and in the creative offices in small businesses all around the country. Gail Sullivan of Studio G Architects Inc. sums up her reasons for her pro-bono efforts: “Offering the pro bono services has given us a chance to maintain our design vigor [and] resulted in people hiring us”
Providing charity work in the community gives small businesses an opportunity to keep employees (whom they want to hang on to for when the economy improves) busy while providing value in their communities, keeping their company visible and building new relationships in the non-profit sector of the economy.
This strategy also recognizes that relationships matter more now than ever and that one way to get to know others is to invest your time, talent or treasure into a venture that you both find useful or beneficial.
In his great new book Tribes, Seth Godin shares his thoughts on leadership in the 21st Century. He explains in simple language how the internet is changing the face of leadership, society and the individual’s role in it. We are becoming a society of self-selecting tribes, centered around common interests and shared passions. At the center of these movements or “tribes” is a leader who is part instigator, part facilitator and part cheerleader.
One of his strongest points in the book is that fear is a significant inhibitor of innovation and progress. He says, “We choose not to be remarkable because we’re worried about criticism.” Although that may not be an entirely original thought, he points out a how differences today make the price of fear today much higher than in the past.
In the past, being remarkable required not just the courage to be “different” but it also required a great deal of capital to put one’s “different” ideas in the marketplace. However, with the tools available today on Internet 2.0, everyone has the opportunity to be remarkable at a relatively low cost. Today, in many ways, the only thing keeping someone from putting their ideas out into the marketplace is the courage and time to do so.