In the words of Paul Ryan, “Behind every small business, there's a story worth knowing. All the corner shops in our towns and cities, the restaurants, cleaners, gyms, hair salons, hardware stores - these didn't come out of nowhere.”
I never really put much thought into small businesses, which I’m kind of ashamed of considering my grandfather has owned a barbershop in Auburn, Ala. for more than 50 years, and it’s been the main form of income for his family throughout their lives.
It wasn’t until I started working in a small coffee shop in Opelika, Ala. that I realized the struggles small businesses deal with on a daily basis. From branding their name to making sure they can pay all of their employees, small business owners have a hard job that just keeps getting harder as mainstream corporations continue to take over the market one city at a time.
But there is something special and unique about small businesses that we don’t appreciate in this day and age. It ties back to advice my dad has repeatedly given me throughout my life - “It’s not about what you know, it’s about who you know.” Essentially, life is all about networking. We see proof of that everyday on social media platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, and supporting small business is a great way to do it.
I can’t even count the number of connections I made working at the coffee shop. I developed relationships with regulars who presented me with opportunities I never would have had otherwise. I became aware of important community members and even felt like a community member myself. Because of that small business, I’ve made music, art, fashion, job, food and coffee connections in Auburn, Opelika and other cities around the United States.
Interning at Verge Pipe Media, a small business itself, has taught me even more about the importance of networking. VPM works with clients who need help with branding their business, managing their social media profiles and marketing their products to customers, a.k.a. – networking.
I can say for certain that I wouldn’t have made the connections I made by working for or buying my products from large, mainstream corporations. Sure it may be easier to find parking at Starbucks or more convenient to buy books from Amazon, but close connections and good networking will get you a lot further in life than a good parking spot.
photo credit: jet-rent.com