“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
The annual national holiday of Thanksgiving for many businesses is the official start of the holiday shopping season. For some businesses, this period represents their peak sales for the year. But there are many reasons why I’m grateful to be a small business owner in the U.S. (The following is adapted from an earlier blog.)
In the U.S., just about anyone can become an entrepreneur. You don’t need a college degree (only 44% of entrepreneurs have a college degree and only 30% finished high school). And you don’t need a pedigree (70% of billionaires are self-made). All it takes to get started is an idea, some capital, grit, and luck.
Statistics in the U.S. show that whether you’re a women, minority group member, veteran, foreign born, or any other minority, you can become a business owner. For example, women own 42% of nonemployee businesses (10% of employee firms). Nearly one in five businesses (18%) have been started by foreign-born individuals, with some industries having even higher representation (e.g., 37% of food services; 24% of retail trade).
Entrepreneurship is celebrated and supported in many quarters. Some examples:
- Entrepreneurship programs in colleges and universities. For many years, I taught an undergraduate class in Principles of Entrepreneurship. There are many undergraduate programs and graduate programs in entrepreneurship. U.S. News lists the top undergraduate programs for 2024. There are also dozens of entrepreneurship MBA programs.
- Business plan competitions. There are monetary prizes for the best plans (e.g., Rice Business Plan Competition on April 4-6, 2024, for graduate-level plans; e-Fest undergraduate entrepreneurship competition). Check the Business Plan Contest Directory from the Global Entrepreneurship Institute to find worldwide competitions.
Small business owners contribute substantially to the economy and their communities in a number of ways, including:
- Employing workers. Small businesses employ nearly half of all workers (46.4%) in the U.S., according to SBA statistics.
- Creating jobs for others. Small businesses help create jobs in other companies by utilizing their goods and services. The existence of small businesses in a community helps improve the local economy and, thus, jobs there.
- Doing charitable work. Small businesses contribute cash, property, and time to help various charities. According to SCORE, small business charitable giving has a big impact on local communities, with about 75% of them donating to charities, many of which are local. A number of businesses advertise that a percentage of revenue or profit goes to charity. For example, eBay enables sellers to donate a percentage of their final sales price to chosen charities, with a minimum donation of 10% or $1. Some businesses donate inventory, such as Bomba, which donates one pair of socks for every pair sold.
Charitable activities are also good for your own business. SCORE notes that 93% of employees who volunteer are happy with their employers and there are other benefits:
- Improves employee leadership and broadens professional skill sets
- Helps employee well-being
- Boosts morale
- Strengthens camaraderie with work colleagues
Thanksgiving is a time to express thanks to those around us—family, friends, and neighbors, as well as employees, customers, and vendors. There are greeting cards, such e-cards from companies such as ekarda and Corporate Holiday Ecards.com that you can use to express gratitude to customers and vendors. I know I’m grateful to you, my readers, and to all the people who I interact with in the course of my business day.