The small business brand

Op-EdAppeared in Today's Hotelier on February 11, 2020By Alfredo Ortiz

Brand names play a pivotal role in our economy. Businesses leverage these trademarks to create customer loyalty. Consumers, on the other hand, use brands to gauge product characteristics, including quality, price, and design. In the hotel industry, Marriott or Hyatt come to mind as distinct names of considerable value.

But not all companies command this level of brand awareness. In fact, a vast majority don’t. Luckily, the popularity of a brand, although helpful, is not the definitive measure of a business’ potential or value. Small businesses provide a good example.

Although small enterprises might lack nationwide, or even statewide, name recognition, many are well known at the local level – and for good reason. Local entrepreneurs frequently offer unique products and services that would be difficult to find at big box stores or retail chains. This is a hallmark of the so-called “small business brand.”

In my role with the Job Creators Network, I work closely with these small business entrepreneurs.

Take Susan Kochevar for example. She’s the owner of 88 Drive In Theater, the last remaining drive-in movie theater in the Denver metro area and a business that she’s poured her blood, sweat, and tears into for 25 years. While you or I might not recognize the business name, Susan is bringing the magic of an outdoor cinema experience to her community. Not only does it provide job experience for area youth but it’s beloved and well known by local residents.

Rose Morris is another excellent example. Her entrepreneurial drive is not contained to the geographic community but is an innovative product that is both well known and well used by a global community of parents with special-needs children.

Her business, Abram’s Nation, has developed and now produces an enclosure that keeps children with autism safely snuggled in their beds at night. It may not be as popular as McDonald’s with the general public, but for the parents of special-needs children, it’s undoubtedly more important and more appreciated than a Big Mac.

Susan and Rose are not alone.

Small business owners and entrepreneurs are always thinking of new ways to solve problems for consumers or provide them with experiences they would be hard-pressed to find elsewhere, no matter how small the niche.

What small businesses don’t have in reach and popularity on a singular basis they make up for as a community. Regardless of whatever city, town, or street you find yourself, a small business is likely no further than a stone’s throw away. Therefore, unsurprisingly, the economic power of the united small business brand is remarkable.

According to government data, more than 30 million small businesses operate in the U.S. and those entrepreneurs are responsible for supporting nearly 60 million employees, or half the country’s workforce. Not only are these enterprises behind two-thirds of all new job creation, but it’s estimated that 44 percent of economic activity in 2019 moved through their doors.

When applied to the $20 trillion U.S. economy, these entrepreneurs are clearly an economic powerhouse.

Although small businesses might not receive the name recognition of a restaurant chain or hotel conglomerate, the national economy would fall apart without them. Brand awareness is important, but the most important brand of all might just be the small business brand.