9 Reasons for Small Business Owners to Be Thankful

There's plenty to be grateful for, especially this year.
(Photo: Mikkel Bigandt/Shutterstock)

It’s the time of year to give thanks. And while not everything about the current small business environment is positive— job openings are hard to fill, SBA loans are becoming more expensive, more online lenders are taking advantage of SMB owners, a new overtime rule is about to take effect — there are plenty of good reasons to be thankful.

Here are just a few.

1. You’re still in business. Considering that about 50 percent of small businesses fail in the first four or five years (some statistics put that figure higher), if you’ve survived that long, you’re rising to the top. And you’re really the cream of the crop if you’ve survived 10 years. Statistics vary widely, but it’s safe to say that only about one-third of businesses (and possibly far fewer) make it that long.

2. U.S. retail sales are trending up. According to the latest figures from the U.S. Census Bureau, retail trade sales are up 2.2 percent from last year. Food services and “drinking places” were up 6.1 percent from last year.

3. Net profit margins are climbing. According to an analysis of private companies by Sageworks, a financial information company, net profit margin (how many cents of profit were generated for each dollar of sales) has been increasing each year over the last five years. It grew to an average of 7.3 percent in 2016, up from 6.3 percent in 2015 and 5.8 percent in 2014. Retail trade net profits are smaller but moving in the right direction, hitting an average of 3.5 percent in 2016, up from 2.7 percent in 2015.

4. You’re helping the economy by creating jobs. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, small firms accounted for 63 percent of the net new jobs created between 1993 and mid-2013. Since the end of the recession (around mid-2013), they accounted for 60 percent of the net new jobs. Small firms with 20 to 499 employees led job creation.

5. You have the power help your family and community. Unemployed relatives? You can hire them (provided they’re trainable). Just be sure to pay them a fair wage, or risk a problem with the law, the IRS and other employees. In terms of helping your community, there are countless relatively easy ways to give back, and “doing good” certainly won’t hurt your image.

6. Technology has made running a business easier. For example, cloud-based applications are cutting down on expenses. Business intelligence software can help you improve your customer interactions and make smarter decisions. And just think about everything your POS system can do, from taking mobile payments to helping you manage inventory and payroll to integrating with accounting apps and executing customer loyalty programs.

7. Your business culture is yours to create. When you work for someone else, you’re mostly stuck with the culture at that business (endless meetings, too many emails, a drab office space, a boss who yells, a general lack of fun). When you own the business, it’s a completely different story. Even small touches — plants in the office, healthy snacks in the fridge, pizza Fridays, a ping pong table in the break room — can make your business a happier place to work. And of course, showing your employees respect and offering genuine compliments go a long way. Remember, creating an appealing culture helps you retain your best employees and boost morale.

8. Small Business Saturday has your back. This “holiday,” which started in 2010, is now having a real impact on spending at small businesses. In 2015, Small Business Saturday spending hit $16.2 billion. Check out these other Small Business Saturday stats.

9. Americans are ready to spend this holiday season. U.S. shoppers plan to fork over an average of $935.58, according to a National Retail Federation survey conducted in October. The NRF forecasts that holiday retail sales (excluding restaurants) in November and December will increase 3.6 percent over last year.

A happy Thanksgiving, indeed!

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