If you are part of the small business world, you are part of the fuel that runs America’s economy. A small business is defined as having fewer than 500 employees, but most small businesses have one employee, and more than half are home based. Local economies should be concentrating on building and improving small businesses rather than hoping for a large company to come to town.

National small business week is May 5-10 and a time to remember that the backbone of America is small business. Of the 28 million small businesses in the country, 22 million are “non-employers” which means sole proprietors working as independents like carpenters, electricians, consultants, insurance agents, real estate brokers, counselors, writers, lawyers and many more. More than half of all small businesses are home-based. Small businesses return $68 of every $100 spent in your business to the local economy. U.S. small businesses employed about half or 56.1 million of the nation’s private workforce in 2017. Small businesses have generated more than 65 percent of the new jobs created in the U.S. since 1996. Approximately 70 percent of all U.S. small businesses are owned and operated by a single individual.

For a small business, success consists of getting up just one more time than you fall. It means never giving up, it means success is just around the corner, but you cannot be successful unless you have faith in yourself. Walt Disney approached several banks for a loan to get started and used the term “Imagineering” for his business. The problem was that those supposedly smart bankers didn’t know what “Imagineering” meant and they didn’t understand the vision of the Imagineering concept. Finally, Disney met a small banker who understood thinking out of the box and decided to fund Disney in phases of his concept. Today, Disneyland and all its imagined characters are what Walt Disney created and made him a success.

Incredibly, the story of Harry Potter almost never got to press. Twelve publishers turned the first book down. The 13th publisher would have done so, too, had the daughter of its CEO not begged her father to please publish the book. So a little girl’s wish was granted and Harry Potter came to be. The Harry Potter series has sold more than 400 million copies, filled nearly a million movie theater seats and has made J.K. Rowling a phenomenal success. If you have time, it’s worth watching Rowling’s commencement speech at Harvard. It is specifically about failure, and the very precious gifts it can give.

The third try’s the charm.

It took Henry Ford three runs at building a car for the masses before he finally featured the Model A in 1904. His problem was not failure in building a car. The problem was not getting a prototype ready for market fast enough for his investors. Ford’s first attempt at launching a car company failed when his investors felt he wasn’t making progress fast enough, and so they bailed on him. Most of the time investors are short sighted and conservative with their money. Ford then failed a second time after talking one of those same investors into funding him once more. Still, Ford didn’t produce results fast enough for the investor. So the investor brought in a manager to speed things up. Ford and the manager didn’t work together well, and so Ford walked off the job. Finally, Ford found an investor who believed in him enough to give him the time and freedom to do what he needed to do. As with the banker and Walt Disney, the patience paid off. Ford Motor Company became a household name, transformed American culture, and sold enough cars to make Ford – and his patient investor – a billionaire many, many times over. Ford’s estimated net worth at the time of his death in 1947 was $188-199 billion dollars.

Organized by the Small Business Administration, this is the 52nd year in a row that the president of the United States has declared one week per year the official celebration of the Main Street entrepreneur or small town business owner. We have our fair share of small businesses in Kingsville that have remained active through many years of dedication and hard. 

“National Small Business Week is a chance to honor our nation’s 28 million small businesses and renew our commitment to fostering the entrepreneurial spirit that is central to the American experience,” said SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet, the head of the U.S. Small Business Administration.

It is also a time to reflect on Kingsville’s and Kleberg County’s small businesses that make our community a wonderful place to live.  

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