It's the universal question: does size matter? No matter what you may have heard, I'm afraid so.
Not sure where your mind went, but I'm talking about businesses—the cost and benefits of big ones and small ones.
Big businesses aren't immune to this pandem-conomic downturn (here's a running list of big retailers who have closed up shop).
Year to date, Amazon stock has more than doubled, and Wal-Mart is up more than 20%. Big retailers like Home Depot, Kroger, Nestle, and Peloton are up, too. Hotels and airlines are in a nosedive. There are perks for all of these titans including the ability to make sure you don't pay any (or many) taxes.
At the same time, thousands of small businesses have closed while others (like us) are up. I've written before about the sheer number of restaurants and coffee shops struggling and how even though they're working hard to stay open, small businesses of all types are facing demand shortages.
Welcome to the roller coaster that is 2020. Keep your hands and feet inside (and your mask on) at all times.
Last week, Nashville hosted the final presidential debate. In the days before, several small businesses near the host campus of Belmont University had to close when sales are already slow. Hear my take in this week's Diary of a Small Business Owner:
(By the way, I was happy to see that the phrase "small business" was actually uttered by each candidate. On the downside, it was almost an hour in, only Biden suggested helping out financially, and then the phrase was only volleyed about in the context of increasing the national minimum wage. Oh well; at least we got something.)
So what's a city to do? Big companies get tax breaks and press conferences when they (say they're going to) create jobs while small businesses - who employ about half of all Americans - usually get very little in the way of concessions and praise.
The stark reality that a lot of cities are going to wake up from post-pandemic is a hollowed out small business shell. Their skyscrapers may have the names of big brands, but the street-level store fronts will be empty.
A city can't be a good fit for big businesses if it's not a good fit for small businesses.
At Batch, small businesses are our lifeblood. And we're on a mission to save them. Our Small Business Pledge, however, takes into account that a healthy ecosystem requires both small and big businesses. We're not asking people to swear off big companies; we're just asking you to add small business shopping to your weekly and monthly routines.
There are a lot of things that big companies do well, and probably better than a small company can (scaling an ecommerce platform, delivering a package 2,000 miles away overnight, transatlantic flights, manufacturing cell phones). But, if we only bail out and hold up big companies then we're going to end up eroding the very foundations these big companies are built upon.
It's inspiring when small guys strike it big and work and make waves:
Dan Price's story of growing his small company while supporting workers is inspiring.
Our pals at Brittle Brothers now have their logo emblazoned on Nashville-area Amazon delivery vans.
Our fastest growing customer segment are big businesses, who use us to send gifts made by small businesses all over the country.
This past week I got the chance to be a part of The Nashville Ballet's Community Conversation series. We talked about why small businesses matter and why all of us must support them, even if it's inconvenient. The downsides (selection, convenience, price) are dwarfed by the upsides (community, connection, belonging, humanity).
Worth noting: A small business is not a big business that hasn’t grown up yet. It’s different. A small business has an owner, someone who can make decisions without meetings, who can listen to customers and who can embrace the work at hand.
You don't have to make a choice between big and small. You can choose both so we all prosper. If the big corporations grow resulting in small business shrinkage, then the losses will leave a massive hole. Who will be able to fill that?
Our Small Business Pledge is going strong, and we'd love more people to rise to the challenge. Will you share it with three people in your world this week?