National Small Business Week wrapped up in May, but the vital role that small businesses play in driving local economies continues throughout the year. Small businesses account for 99 percent of all U.S. employer firms, and more than half of the private sector’s new jobs created over the past two decades.
Although small business confidence is high, some important differences emerged in the MetLife & U.S. Chamber of Commerce Small Business Index issued in May. Women are not as confident about men in running their businesses, and in certain parts of the country, some small businesses are struggling more than others.
Business reporters can look into one or more of the following angles to develop this important story in their circulation area:
Look at the state of small business in your state
Is your state one of the winners—or losers—at creating or losing small business jobs? What percentage of new jobs in your state do small businesses create? What types of businesses are thriving, or struggling? Is there any other factor that stands out—for example, does your state attract more Millennial owners?
The U.S. Census Bureau offers this interactive map on new job creation by state. To fill out the picture, study these small business profiles by state from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). Interview staff at the SBA district or regional office that serves your area to gain an insight about small business lending in your area. Find out how tax-friendly your state is to small business. Then call local lenders and get the details on the type of new businesses they are backing. Be sure to look into alternative lending sources, such as peer-to-peer lending, in addition to traditional lenders.
Profile your local small business owners
Small business owners represent a broad demographic, from Baby Boomers and Millennials to women and minorities and recent immigrants. By now everyone knows the story of Hamdi Ulukaya, the Turkish immigrant who founded the best-selling Chobani Greek yogurt brand. Is there a future billionaire small business owner building a business in your zip code?
Talk with your local Chamber of Commerce to identify key owners and then put out a blast on your news organization’s social media channels to develop this story in print and video. Profile several owners: What drew them to your location? What challenges did they face? Are they optimistic about the future of their business and economy. Why or why not?
Share the success of your small businesses with readers
What lessons have these owners learned to pass along to readers interested in starting a small business? This angle may put a surprisingly personal face on this personal finance story. With small businesses employing 58 million Americans, it’s very likely many of your readers—or a family member or friend— will have worked at a business similar to the one you profile.