Last week, we talked about saving your small town by showing support for your local businesses through your money and your words. I started to include “start your own business,” but knew I couldn’t do it justice in a quick paragraph. So let’s talk about it now.
Want to help save your small town? Start your own business.
I know of at least three reasons.
1. When you start a successful business, you decide what values to put first.
“One of the best things you can do to drive societal change is start a successful business,” entrepreneur Fred Keller of Grand Rapids, Michigan said.
Keller’s business, Cascade Engineering, doesn’t just look for a net profit. It looks at the return on people, the planet, and then profit. It’s the now-famous triple bottom line. The prosperity of his business lets him share the prosperity with his entire community.
You may be tempted to think this only works with the few outstanding successes, the super-star businesses. That’s the wrong place to focus. Let’s look instead at the total return on our local small businesses.
2. Locally-owned small businesses are the key to local prosperity.
Charles Tolbert, Baylor University, did the research and found local small businesses were associated with:
- higher average income,
- less income inequality,
- lower poverty levels,
- lower unemployment levels,
- less crime, and
- better health: lower levels of obesity and diabetes, and lower rates of death.
Large businesses showed no such association.
3.Locally-owned small businesses return more of what they earn into the local economy.
If you start your own business, you will put twice as much of each dollar into your town than what a chain store would. That’s because you buy more of your supplies and services locally, you are more likely to stock local products for sale, and you give more back to your community. And that’s before you turn a profit, because you spend more of your profits in town than any chain that ships all the profits off to company headquarters far away.
Yes, this is supported by research, actually by quite a bit of research. The American Independent Business Alliance has ten new studies on the local multiplier effect for you. (I’m a big fan of AMIBA, partly because they bring a Montana sensibility to independent business.)
Now you see why I didn’t squeeze this in last week.
Until next time, go out and start a business. It’s your best way to be part of saving your small town.