Small businesses are essential to driving the global economy. In fact, many of the big name brands we love today started off as small businesses – even UPS.
Growing up in Toronto, Canada, I recall a sea of small businesses servicing our local neighbourhood. There was everything you’d ever need — a convenience store, bakery, dry cleaner, pharmacy, barber shop, small hardware store and several restaurants. However, the one business that always comes to mind when thinking about my youth is a local grocery store called Joe’s Grocery.
Joe’s Grocery was owned and managed by a local resident who everyone knew, an older European man who would greet you as you set foot through the door. In five small aisles there was fresh bread, fruits and vegetables, all of your canned and boxed goods and an onsite butcher. It was the staple neighbourhood store that everyone knew and talked about.
These types of small businesses exist in every city, every community and on most of the corners all across the globe. Did you know that in Canada small businesses like Joe’s Grocery regularly contribute just over 30% to our annual GDP? Luckily, after all these years Joe’s Grocery is still standing but for many businesses this isn’t the reality. The sad fact is almost 90,000 small businesses close each year in Canada.
Here are a few reasons why I think Joe’s Grocery survived:
- Joe’s success exemplifies the power of building and maintaining relationships. By providing stellar customer service, we always felt welcome and were compelled to come back. Remember; the customer is king!
- Joe always had the best of everything we needed. Not only was he friendly, he offered superior products and was open to suggestions. Ultimately he found his niche and marketed to our neighbourhood. I believe there is much to be said about not playing above your means.
- Joe’s attitude towards his customers, the neighbourhood and his livelihood gave him the will to succeed. If we are faced with challenges, as is the case with many small businesses, remaining positive can make a world of difference, and really, the difference between staying afloat or having to shut your doors.
In all honesty, I believe it’s businesses like Joe’s that truly are the backbone of our economies. Without them, we have to go elsewhere. Without us, they do not thrive. It’s this give-and-take relationship that helps small businesses survive and play an important role in shaping our communities.