by Murgesh Navar
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be withthose cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” Theodore Roosevelt
These words by former President Theodore Roosevelt describe, almost perfectly, the importance of entrepreneurs to American society. While we may not see it clearly, the backbone of American society is held up by innovation and perseverance, and small businesses embody the spirit of both.
We might imagine that it is only the “big names” that push innovation; such as the way Apple has pushed innovative devices like the iPhone and iPad. However, where did the “big names” get their start? All of them began with entrepreneurs, developing products that nobody had seen before and then managing to get those products into the homes of consumers.
In Apple’s case, the innovation began in a homebrew computer club, where Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak first came up with their plans for their own line of home computers. Through tenacity, local marketing and their own share of blood and tears, Jobs and Wozniak built Apple, Inc. into the multinational success that it is today.
There are other examples I could tell you about, but what’s most important is the role small businesses and entrepreneurs still play today. It’s not as visible, in some ways, because we see the larger corporations more prominently. However, small business is still holding up our society: in restaurant franchise owners, in small niche shops, and in home-based inventors. These business people are putting forth the effort every day to try competing with the major corporations.
Sometimes, these small businesses succeed in their efforts to compete, and sometimes they fail. Either they know “the triumph of high achievement” or they “fail while daring greatly,” because tackling “big business” is a daunting task. These small businesses deserve much more credit fortheir impact on our society than is given them, because so few succeed to heights high enough for common society to truly recognize it.
When we do see these efforts, they often show up embedded within the unlikeliest of places. How often, for example, do you see a small business show up on social media sources like Facebook or Twitter? Within their spirit of pushing their business forward, these companies recognize the value of reaching customers in whatever means they can. Fewer and fewer people actually pay attention to television commercials anymore, so it can be much more effective for entrepreneurs to invest their time and energy in marketing through Facebook, Google+, Twitter and other social media channels, letting customers know they are around and interacting with those customers.
Unfortunately, there’s one aspect that many small businesses are missing the mark on, and it impacts their ability to succeed and continue holding up American society’s backbone: targeting what their customers buy and value. This is an area of weakness that some can be improved upon, and the tools are there to improve it. Payment analytics helps these businesses understand what their customers are truly looking for in their shopping and service experience, and can greatly improve the likelihood of a small business knowing great success.
Small businesses are in the arena. Their faces are certainly marred with dust, sweat, and blood. They deserve the credit for their influence on American society, and they deserve whatever help they can get to succeed. Projects like Kickstarter are helping launch entrepreneurs again, in an age where business loans are more difficult to come by. These businesses would be wise to put in the effort to research everything they need to succeed, and target all of their marketing efforts in the wisest means for today’s technological society. If small businesses begin to fail in larger numbers, it would be devastating to the vision of the American dream.