7 Big Businesses Who are Small Business Allies
When it comes to small business and larger corporations there’s often an “us versus them” mentality. For example small shop owners might fear a big box retailer coming in and crushing their business. While that may be a legitimate concern not all big businesses are bad. In fact many giant companies have made helping entrepreneurs a special focus. With that in mind here are seven big businesses (in four different categories) that should be considered small business allies:
Facebook You know a company is pretty massive when there’s a movie made about its inception. Despite that critically acclaimed film’s less than stellar portrayal of CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook has only continued to grow since the release of The Social Network, thanks in no small part to small businesses. Today the site touts over three million advertisers many of whom are small businesses.
While not everything the company has done has made entrepreneurs happy — such as switching to algorithmic newsfeed that practically mandated that business pay for social advertising instead of reaching customers organically— there’s no denying that the massive audience Facebook has built provides small businesses with an unparalleled tool for reaching new customers and developing relationships with existing ones. Their advertising tools make it easy for small businesses to target users by geography and/or interest, which makes it easier to optimize ad spending.
Google The answer to whether Google is a friend or foe to entrepreneurs likely varies by who you talk to. However I’d argue that, similar to Facebook, the marks in the search engine’s “pro” column vastly outweigh the “cons” when it comes to the majority of small businesses. Sure mastering search engine optimization can be a tall task for many, but Google also offers free services such as Google Analytics and the Google Search Console which allow business owners to better target their customers and see how their website is performing. Basically, if you stay on Google’s good side, they can be a powerful ally.
Square There was a time not too long ago where fewer and fewer people still carried cash but many small businesses weren’t equipped to take cards. Enter Square and their low-cost credit card readers, point of sale terminals, and low processing fees. As a result now local coffee shops, traveling freelancers, and even Girl Scouts selling cookies can accept credit cards easily and securely. Beyond that Square’s software also enables businesses to monitor their inventory, view sales data from a number of angles, and manage both in-store and online sales in one place. As a result is it any wonder why Square is becoming practically synonymous with small and local business?
Lending Club Following the financial collapse of 2008 it became much more difficult for small businesses to find the funding they needed. In fact, while lending among big banks and other institutions has risen steadily since those days, a recent survey of small business owners found that 44% were unable to get the financing they wanted for their businesses. Furthermore more than half of those entrepreneurs said that, if they could get financing, they’d hire at least one person. That’s why marketplace lender Lending Club has made small business lending a priority, raising their maximum amount that owners can borrow up to $300,000. The company also gives entrepreneurs options by offering both fixed-rate loans and lines of credit making it even easier for businesses to secure the capital they need to grow.
Big Box Retailers
Sam’s Club From one club to another — Sam’s Club is actually a subsidiary of one of the largest and most infamous corporations of all time: Walmart. Although Walmart gets a reputation for being a “mom and pop shop” killer, Sam’s Club actually does quite a bit to help small businesses. For one the warehouse club often acts as good option for businesses that might not buy in enough bulk to have their own wholesale accounts for the culinary ingredients or other supplies they need. Additionally Sam’s Club has actually partnered with Lending Club to offer its members discounted rates on small business loans. Say what you will about Walmart but they’re onto something good here.
Staples If there’s one thing that almost every small business needs it’s office supplies. That’s why Staples has made an effort to reach out to small businesses in a way that goes beyond selling them pens and paperclips. In addition to the company’s Business Hub blog and their Small Business Network on LinkedIn, which both aim to give entrepreneurs advice and inspiration from their peers, the retailer also offers a portal that allows business owners to explore some funding options. With Staples’ current slogan “Make More Happen,” it’s clear that they know the huge role small businesses play in their success and are doing their best to ensure that those companies become big businesses too.
American Express While all of the companies on this list do their part for small businesses American Express is the only one that has managed to launch a successful holiday based around supporting local businesses. In 2010 the credit card company started the first Small Business Saturday — a retail holiday that falls in between Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Ever since then the idea has gained more steam with some legislatures even proposing to make the event a tax holiday for businesses of a certain size to entice more shoppers to “shop small.” Of course the company also offers small business credit cards but the invention of Small Business Saturday is what makes American Express really standout from other card companies.
Every successful business starts somewhere. While some will stay within their niche others will grow, expand, and even dominate in their industry. Although some like to frame capitalism in a way that pits the big guys against the little guys the truth is that, as these seven companies show, many large corporations are still looking to help new entrepreneurs and allow them to reach their full potential.