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  • Writer's pictureLaurie Fenske

Small Business Week in Support of Small Businesses

As we embark on the 44th annual Small Business Week, I felt compelled to share some insights I’ve gleaned through running my small business and many conversations with my network of small business owners.

With the cost of inflation continuing to rise and everyone’s cash flow shrinking, there has been a trend of small businesses being questioned for things like travel expenses, printing and project-specific supplies being included as line items on invoices.

For perspective, here in Alberta, being a small business means that a business (incorporated, partnership or sole proprietor) has fewer than 50 employees. Small businesses make up approximately 96% of Alberta businesses.

We, the FSC Group, are a small business, as are many of our clients. We’ve been operational for 7+ years, with each year resulting in a greater impact through our coaching, facilitating, and consulting areas of focus. Everyone who works under the FSC umbrella focuses first on clients and second on growth.

I believe many of us small businesses share a few things in common:

  • We don’t start on their own because they couldn’t make it in the Corporate World. Most entrepreneurs were highly successful and saw a need for the specific services they could offer.

  • As entrepreneurs, we often work more hours a week than we would have as employees, with many averaging over 75 hours a week. According to Gallup, 62% of business owners work over 50 hours a week. However, I know in my circle of entrepreneurs, it’s nothing to pull an “all-nighter” to reach a commitment we’ve made. We don’t know words like “not my job”, “we don’t do that”, “we don’t take evening/weekend meetings”, or “our business hours are….”

  • Entrepreneurs, particularly as we start out, must be savvy (or become savvy) in Marketing, IT, Sales, Finance, Business Development, Strategic Planning and HR.

  • We “eat last” meaning that we don’t pay ourselves until all of our financial obligations are met. Most of us take less than minimum wage out of our companies during the first 2 – 3 years of being in business. Information found through stats Canada indicates that almost 50% of entrepreneurs self-fund.

  • Like larger businesses, we pay GST, provincial and federal tax. Insurance, business licenses, etc., along with employee compensation, bonuses, and, in some cases, benefits and group savings plans.

  • We empathize and understand the economic pressures on our clients as we feel them, too. Therefore, increases in pricing are not done lightly.

  • We aren’t guaranteed success – stats Canada data on new small businesses show that 21.5% of small businesses fold before the end of their first year. About 50% of small businesses survive for five years, and only a third get to celebrate ten years in business. It takes grit and perseverance.

So I ask, when a small business provides you with a quote, please don’t try to negotiate the price down or challenge the line items for printing, inventory, or office supplies.

And don't forget, entrepreneurs will work harder for their clients than any other body of workers I know, myself and my team included. Please think about “shopping local” and reach out to an entrepreneur in your own community! It could be one of the best decisions you will ever make.

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