The Covid-19 pandemic showed local businesses that people were willing to create their own start-up companies if it meant revenue growth, success, and getting their name out there in a time of uncertainty. The rise of microbusinesses—a company with 10 or fewer employees that meets specific annual revenue criteria set by state authorities—is proving that even small businesses can make an impact and contribute greatly to local economies.
America saw the creation of 2.8 million more microbusinesses in 2020 than 2019, indicating that the pandemic was a monumental influence on individuals wanting to make up for lost income. Due to the recent, unprecedented rise of microbusinesses, many local economies didn’t have the resources available to provide for them or even identify them.
This impeccable growth provides an exciting new opportunity to equitably and effectively support microbusiness development and help budding entrepreneurs. Indeed, minority communities are especially important in the growth of microbusinesses. Minorities took harder hits during the pandemic than their white counterparts in terms of job loss which turned them instead in the direction of seeking new incomes and opportunities through micro- and small businesses.
It’s integral that local officials understand and bolster the field of entrepreneurship by:
- Identifying up-and-coming entrepreneurs
- Understanding what’s needed for their success
- Providing small businesses with support services
What microbusinesses struggle with especially is access to capital, getting their name out to the public, and finding the funding to support themselves. But how can they get their feet off the ground if nobody—especially those who can do something about it—knows they exist?
How to Locate Micro- and Small Businesses
- Sites and Apps
In the bustling world of technology, more and more apps and websites are catering to those searching for small, local businesses. Sites like Thumbtack, Angi, Whitepages, and Hubspot have online directories for local businesses. They’re fantastic sources for individuals searching to connect with professionals in their area.
2. Social Media
Social media is becoming a multi-faceted tool for businesses in a variety of ways: improving customer relations, directing traffic back to their website, and getting their name out there. Moreover, social media can help individuals discover microbusinesses in their area thanks to geotargeting, geofencing, and geoframing.
Now more than ever, businesses on social media are taking advantage of SEO, searchable location maps, and targeted ads to make themselves heard! These features make it easy to find micro- and small businesses in your local area and learn how to better support them.
Through Instagram’s location map update, users can discover the official Instagram accounts of businesses in their area at the touch of a button. This update gives businesses an incentive to establish and maintain bustling, active Instagram pages.
3. Local Chamber of Commerce
New businesses typically become members of the local Chamber of Commerce. Some Chambers make it a point to post about these new businesses on their website so people in the area can check them out. Others may be able to provide you with a list of new businesses if you shoot them a quick email or phone call.
Ensure you’re a member of your local Chamber of Commerce as you might only have access to this information if you’re a member! It will benefit you in finding new businesses and also in keeping up with regulatory matters and new business opportunities. For those in Northern Virginia, contact the Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce to get insider data on micro- and small businesses in the area.
4. Secretary of State
All businesses are required to register with the Corporations Division of the Secretary of State’s office in your state. Most states have searchable online directories of registered corporations to peruse.
Or, of course, you can contact the Corporations Division directly and request a list from them. The information you receive most likely won’t indicate the size of the business, but you can move forward and contact those businesses personally.
How to Support Microbusinesses
- Build and Boost Support Networks
Communities wanting to support microbusinesses should:
- Make microfinance and community development financial institutions accessible to them
- Help companies with marketing, legal issues, real estate, and accounting needs
- Offer coaching and mentoring from those who understand the nuances of business and the challenges that might crop up
Support is best delivered through a network of business support organizations (BSOs) attuned to the needs of microbusinesses in the NOVA area specifically. BSOs:
- Have a shared mission to support underserved, underfinanced small businesses
- A shared value around inclusive practices to include marginalized groups, a.k.a. “set-aside” categories in government contracting, in their efforts
- Regularly meet to share and swap ideas and best practices
2. Understand What Barriers They Face
Owning and running a microbusiness is difficult—one has to navigate funding, find employees, and get their name out there to see revenue growth. It takes intentional work to create strategies to engage with and support underserved microbusinesses.
They often don’t receive tax breaks or other incentives from state, local, or federal government programs. Many are unbanked or underbanked. Their growth trajectory is slow, jobs aren’t always at wages that can sustain families, and they’re simply unheard of in local communities. Look for ways to include microbusinesses in your funding, conversation, and efforts to enhance your local economy.
We know that micro- and small businesses have a monumental impact on local economies once we do the research. In 2019, 39,397 jobs were created by small businesses in Virginia alone with businesses with less than 20 employees counting for 29,300 jobs.
3. Elevate the Current Conversation
The current conversation surrounding microbusinesses is nearly nonexistent. Ask yourself these questions when you find yourself discussing your local economy:
- What if every company that wanted to grow had the support needed to do so?
- What resources do I have that I could be giving others access to in order to grow their business?
- Are minorities and women being represented enough in our local economy?
- How can I elevate small businesses in my unique way?
Understanding the plight of microbusinesses and allocating resources and money to their mission is the best way to get them the recognition and business they deserve. For those in Northern Virginia looking to make an impact, do research on micro- and small businesses in the area, contact the local Chamber of Commerce, get the conversation going, and don’t be afraid to make connections. Keep up with the business pulse of Northern Virginia and get a head start on promoting local businesses.