Gone are the days when small business owners were individuals lacking formal education or corporate skills. Due to the advent of the Internet and social media, social status or level of education are no longer the defining criteria for achieving success in entrepreneurship.
Because of that, small businesses have become a really important part of national economies in recent times. This trend is now observable in a number of developed and developing countries. SBEs (small business enterprises) contribute to half of the total GDP in such developed countries as Japan and the USA. This gives one a pretty good idea of how essential SBEs are to the continual growth of any economy. However, in some countries, small businesses are oftentimes underrepresented, and it's high time that changed.
To better understand the role SBEs play, we should first consider some basic economic concepts.
What is a Small Business Enterprise (SBE)?
There isn't a universally accepted definition of small business enterprises. In the United States, SBEs are referred to as commercial entities that employ a staff of 500 and have little influence on the market segment they operate in. In their turn, Europeans define them as having fewer than 250 people.
What is an economy?
An economy can be defined as a system of buying, selling, and producing goods and services. The most basic component of any economy is the distribution of money, or putting it simply, buying and selling. There are many interdependent factors that influence economic growth or decline of a nation, such as labor, law, infrastructure, natural resources, human capital, and technology. For the purpose of this article, we will focus on small business enterprises and their influence on a national economy. There are numerous ways in which SME ensure collective growth of an economy but we'll focus on these four:
- It serves as a source of employment.
- It helps reduce poverty.
- It alleviates tax burden on small business owners.
- It reduces crime.
Due to the abundance of information on social media, it has become relatively easy for literally anyone today to start a small business. All it takes is having some start-up capital and Internet access. However, small business owners need to employ people to ensure their company's growth. Because of the small initial costs involved, people are constantly looking for ways to launch their own SBEs. Examples of such small enterprises include companies hiring custom writers for people who can buy cheap essay, Wieners Circle, Death wish Coffee, etc.
One form of trading that has become very instrumental in facilitating the creation of small businesses is e-commerce (online shopping). E-commerce makes it possible to start a profitable business with no infrastructure at all, and that means little start-up costs. Small business enterprises serve as an excellent alternative source of employment, especially when it comes to jobs that don't require graduate level education. And this, in turn, translates to increased economic growth and development.
Poverty is undeniably one of the main reasons for economic stagnation. Poverty and unemployment go hand in hand, which means that the former can be eradicated by providing more job opportunities. And the best way to do that is to encourage the creation of SBEs at the community level. Given the low start-up costs involved, it's safe to say that an economy that invests in SBEs is sure to experience exponential growth within the shortest possible time.
A spike in crime rate is undeniably another anti-economic growth indicator. That's because it imposes a huge economic burden on the affected communities and taxpayers. And the worst thing is that investors make it a rule to avoid crime-ridden areas.
So what can be done to improve a country's economy if it is filled with crime-ridden communities? To tackle a problem of this magnitude, we've got to first understand its underlying cause, which is joblessness. In fact, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure that out. If that's the case, then creating SBEs seems to be the logical thing to do. In other words, by creating jobs in these communities, you provide people with an opportunity to make an honest living and give a boost to your economy.
Tax payment is one of the major channels through which governments get revenue. As of 2010, small businesses accounted for 50% of the total GDP (Gross Domestic Product) in the United States, one of the strongest economies on the planet. This means that half of the foundation of one of the world's biggest economy is based on the input of SBEs. And as we all know, the ratio of tax revenue to GDP is directly proportional. In other words, tax revenue increases as GDP increases. So, not only do small businesses affect GDP but they also directly affect tax revenue. Given that, a rapid decline in output of SBEs will automatically cause a rapid decline in economic growth.
Because of the small start-up costs involved, SMEs are relatively easy to create and run. That is exactly the reason why more and more of them are started on a regular basis in developed and developing countries. This fact alone underscores the grave importance of small businesses. Their growing number means more employment opportunities which, in turn, translates to increased tax revenue and GDP.
Now that you know the role small businesses play in a nation's economy, it should be pretty clear to you that they ensure global financial stability. And this further reinforces the belief that we all have significant roles to play in nation building, no matter how small they may be.
"Steal the mesh underwear you get from the hospital," a friend said upon learning I was pregnant with my first daughter.
It was the single best piece of advice I received before giving birth in December 2013. My best friend delivered her daughter eight months previously, and she was the first to pass along this shared code among new moms: you'll need mesh underwear for your at-home postpartum recovery, and you can't find them anywhere for purchase. End result: steal them. And tell your friends.
My delivery and subsequent recovery were not easy. To my unexpected surprise, after almost 24 hours of labor, I had an emergency C-section. Thankfully, my daughter was healthy; however, my recovery was quite a journey. The shock to my system caused my bloated and swollen body to need weeks of recovery time. Luckily, I had trusted my friend and followed her instructions: I had stolen some mesh underwear from the hospital to bring home with me.
Unfortunately, I needed those disposable underwear for much longer than I anticipated and quickly ran out. As I still wasn't quite mobile, my mother went to the store to find more underwear for me. Unfortunately, she couldn't find them anywhere and ended up buying me oversized granny panties. Sure, they were big enough, but I had to cut the waistband for comfort.
I eventually recovered from my C-section, survived those first few sleepless months, and returned to work. At the time, I was working for a Fortune 100 company and happily contributing to the corporate world. But becoming a new mom brought with it an internal struggle and search for something “more" out of my life--a desire to have a bigger impact. A flashback to my friend's golden piece of advice got me thinking: Why aren't mesh underwear readily available for women in recovery? What if I could make the magical mesh underwear available to new moms everywhere? Did I know much about designing, selling, or marketing clothing? Not really. But I also didn't know much about motherhood when I started that journey, either, and that seemed to be working out well. And so, Brief Transitions was born.
My quest began. With my manufacturing and engineering background I naively thought, It's one product. How hard could it be? While it may not have been “hard," it definitely took a lot of work. I slowly started to do some research on the possibilities. What would it take to start a company and bring these underwear to market? How are they made and what type of manufacturer do I need? With each step forward I learned a little more--I spoke with suppliers, researched materials, and experimented with packaging. I started to really believe that I was meant to bring these underwear to other moms in need.
Then I realized that I needed to learn more about the online business and ecommerce world as well. Google was my new best friend. On my one hour commute (each way), I listened to a lot of podcasts to learn about topics I wasn't familiar with--how to setup a website, social media platforms, email marketing, etc. I worked in the evenings and inbetween business trips to plan what I called Execution Phase. In 2016, I had a website with a Shopify cart up and running. I also delivered my second daughter via C-section (and handily also supplied myself with all the mesh underwear I needed).
They say, “If you build it, they will come." But I've learned that the saying should really go more like this: “If you build it, and tell everyone about it, they might come." I had a 3-month-old, an almost 3 year old and my business was up and running. I had an occasional sale; however, my processes were extremely manual and having a day job while trying to ship product out proved to be challenging. I was manually processing and filling orders and then going to the post office on Saturday mornings to ship to customers. I eventually decided to go where the moms shop...hello, Amazon Prime! I started to research what I needed to do to list products with Amazon and the benefits of Amazon fulfillment (hint: they take care of it for you).
Fast forward to 2018...
While I started to build this side business and saw a potential for it to grow way beyond my expectations, my corporate job became more demanding with respect to travel and time away from home. I was on the road 70% of the time during first quarter 2018. My normally “go with the flow" 4-year-old started to cry every time I left for a trip and asked why I wasn't home for bedtime. That was a low point for me and even though bedtime with young kids has its own challenges, I realized I didn't want to miss out on this time in their lives. My desire for more scheduling flexibility and less corporate travel time pushed me to work the nights and weekends needed to build and scale my side hustle to a full-time business. If anyone tries to tell you it's “easy" to build “passive" income, don't believe them. Starting and building a business takes a lot of grit, hustle and hard work. After months of agonizing, changing my mind, and wondering if I should really leave my job (and a steady paycheck!), I ultimately left my corporate job in April 2018 to pursue Brief Transitions full-time.
In building Brief Transitions, I reached out to like-minded women to see if they were experiencing similar challenges to my own--balancing creating and building a business while raising children--and I realized that many women are on the quest for flexible, meaningful work. I realized that we can advance the movement of female entrepreneurs by leveraging community to inspire, empower, and connect these trailblazers. For that reason, I recently launched a new project, The Transitions Collective, a platform for connecting community-driven women entrepreneurs.
As is the case with many entrepreneurs, I find myself working on multiple projects at a time. I am now working on a members-only community for The Transitions Collective that will provide access to experts and resources for women who want to leave corporate and work in their business full-time. Connecting and supporting women in this movement makes us a force in the future of work. At the same time, I had my most profitable sales quarter to date and best of all, I am able to drop my daughter off at school in the morning.
Mesh underwear started me on a journey much bigger than I ever imagined. They sparked an idea, ignited a passion, and drove me to find fulfillment in a different type of work. That stolen underwear was just the beginning.