This post is a part of a series celebrating National Small Business Week. If you’re a small business owner using Shoeboxed for your business and would like to share your experience, we’d love to hear from you.
Happy National Small Business Week!
Since 1963, each U.S. President has officially recognized this week in June in honor of American small businesses throughout the country. It’s a time to celebrate the incredible contributions made my small businesses, freelancers and solopreneurs.
Forget corporate America – the engine of the American economy is driven by small businesses. According to the U.S. Small Business Association, over 50% of all Americans own a small business or are employed by a small business, and over 65% of new jobs each year are created by small businesses. No wonder there has been an entire week dedicated to honoring small businesses!
The U.S. Small Business Administration is a government-run agency with offices in all 50 states. Its primary goal is to offer support to small businesses by providing them with government-backed loans, disaster recovery assistance and access to entrepreneurial development programs.
Every year, the SBA nominates an outstanding small business or solopreneur from each of the 50 states and U.S. territories. While National Small Business Week events take place in five cities across the country, including Washington D.C., Dallas, Seattle, St. Louis and Pittsburgh, 54 nominees will travel to the nation’s capital to compete for their chance to win the National Small Business Person of the Year Award.
Just like the SBA’s founder DeWitt Emery, a small business owner who worked to support small business advancement throughout the country, this year’s State Small Business winners and National Person of the Year nominees have demonstrated innovation in terms of their operations, job growth and contributions to the U.S. economy, wherever they may happen to be.
Here are a few of this year’s most inspiring nominees and what makes their small business worth noting:
Brushy Mountain Bee Farm (North Carolina)
Who they are
North Carolina’s State Small Business Person of the Year honors the owners of Brushy Mountain Bee Farm, a small business that has grown to become one of the biggest suppliers of beekeeping supplies in the entire country. In addition to selling the supplies needed to start your very own bee colony, the guys at Brushy Mountain show you how to make soaps, candles and other products using your very own beeswax.
Why they got nominated
In addition to providing their customers with high quality products and beekeeping supplies, the Brushy Mountain crew has set themselves apart by positioning themselves as experts in their chosen field. A visit to the Brushy Mountain website offers much more than a simple sales pitch – customers are provided with a variety of educational resources to help them make the most out of their hobby and get their questions answered.
The Brushy Mountain blog, FAQ page and weekly webinars offer bee enthusiasts the ability to get started on the right track. This creates trust between the customer and the company, and ensures that when it’s time to make a purchase, Brushy Mountain will be the first place a customer thinks to go.
In addition to education, the Brushy Mountain crew have shown themselves to be masters of customer service. The owners list their home phone number right on the website, one of our favorite tactics for keeping clients happy and providing the optimum in personalized service.
They also offer a live chat option, creating an image of accessibility that makes customers feel cared for and catered to.
Brushy Mountain also wins mad marketing points by positioning themselves as leaders in their particular niche. Instead of attempting appeal to beekeepers and organic farmers and hobbyist gardeners, they worked to appeal to a hyper-specific target market. These guys only sell beekeeping supplies, and only focus on beekeeping products and education. By clearly defining themselves and their position in the market, they’ve been able to attract their ideal customers and develop long term relationships with them.
M BAR C Construction (California)
Who they are
Ok, so while they don’t have the catchiest name ever, M BAR C Construction is in the running for National Business Person of the Year. The company’s owner, Michael Ianni, has received the award for California Business Person of the Year – no small feat for a company operating in the most populous state in the country.
M BAR C Construction is a family owned and operated small business that evolved from M BAR C Carports, a construction company that has been building and installing carports since the 1970s. By the 1990s, the Ianni family saw an opportunity to go green, and began focusing on the construction of solar panels.
Why they got nominated
So what makes this small business a cut above the rest?
M BAR C Construction has survived and thrived because of its ability to change with the times and adapt its services to the changing needs of its customers. In 2005, the company formed a completely separate division that focuses strictly on the design and installation of solar panels. By taking a risk in the late ‘90s, before everyone else jumped on the environmental bandwagon, they’ve been able to position themselves as an industry leader in their market.