While the Thanksgiving Day rush for door buster deals may focus on national stores, small businesses are certainly a big part of the holiday shopping mix.
Small Business Saturday, started by American Express in 2010, encourages people to shop at small businesses. It has proven wildly popular and has grown every year. It’s a great opportunity for our local businesses to leverage a national marketing campaign, and it’s a great way to help shoppers discover the products and services available in their own communities.
We can’t overemphasize the importance of shopping local, particularly in rural communities with few major employers. And though we may be occupied with the holiday shopping season, it’s worth recognizing the role small businesses play in our economy year-round.
In Kentucky, most are small businesses, defined as having fewer than 500 employees. They employ about half of the state’s private-sector workforce, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy.
In Central Kentucky communities, it also is easy to see how prevalent and essential small businesses are. In the counties included in the Lincoln Trail region – Breckinridge, Grayson, Hardin, LaRue, Marion, Meade, Nelson and Washington – the majority of companies have fewer than 20 employees, ranging from 63 percent in Hardin County to 83 percent in LaRue County. The percentage of companies with fewer than 100 employees ranges from 72 percent to 90 percent.
Our region is fortunate to be home to so many successful small businesses. They not only provide jobs, but many also are part of who we are as a community. Some are woven into our local culture, some are part of our traditions and many others are valuable partners in the civic arena.
These businesses are successful because they work on their business, not just in their business. They work hard to offer the best product or service, and they know the importance of financial management, marketing and the efficient use of time and resources.
Coming out of the recession, the small business landscape in our region is encouraging. At the University of Kentucky Small Business Development Center in Elizabethtown, we’re seeing more small business owners implement their growth plans. And in the past year, we’ve seen an uptick in the requests for support from parties interested in buying or selling a small business.
The statewide landscape also is encouraging, and Kentucky is leading the nation in small business support as evidenced by recent awards for entrepreneurial activity, small business friendliness and the ability to create jobs.
The University of Kentucky SBDC, for instance, offers no-cost consultations to existing and potential entrepreneurs as well as low-cost training programs for small businesses.
We are especially fortunate in the Lincoln Trail region to have a strong network of resources and partners that see the value in supporting local entrepreneurship. From the Kentucky Career Center – Lincoln Trail and Lincoln Trail Workforce Investment Board’s interactions with job seekers and employers, to colleges and universities serving our local students, to the Transition Assistance Program at Fort Knox, there are a multitude of community partners guiding potential entrepreneurs.
This network of resources is a catalyst for the success we’re seeing in the small business community and for the future success we are striving to cultivate.
On Small Business Saturday, consider taking part in your local small business community’s success. It’s a fun way to check off the items on your gift list, and it’s a meaningful way to support local job creators.
If you are an entrepreneur or are interested growing or starting a small business, contact us at (270) 765-6737 or visit ksbdc.org to find out how we can help.
Patricia Krausman is Center Director at the University of Kentucky Small Business Development Center in Elizabethtown, which serves a 10-county area. She can be reached at (270) 765-6737 or firstname.lastname@example.org.