BY JESSE GERICKE | November is National Entrepreneurship Month, a time to honor the trailblazers and risk-takers whose vision is the backbone of our nation’s economy. In his proclamation on National Entrepreneurship Month, President Biden makes a point to salute America’s entrepreneurs as “models of drive, resilience and determination — the very virtues that built America.”
As we celebrate the month and anticipate Small Business Saturday on Nov. 25, I call on New York City residents and consumers around the country to support local businesses and recognize their resilience as they weathered an unprecedented public health crisis and rough economic headwinds. Our entrepreneurs are innovators who quickly adapted, pivoted their operations and moved their businesses online, accelerating the digital transformation.
Small businesses employ 46.8 percent or roughly half of all American workers. In the face of unprecedented challenges, these businesses embraced technology to navigate COVID-19 and thrive in the new normal. The adoption of digital strategies is allowing these small businesses to discover new revenue streams and customer bases. According to a study from the National Library of Medicine, digital technologies transformed entrepreneurship during the recent pandemic. Small businesses use digital platforms to capitalize on emerging opportunities to scale their operations, be more competitive and improve efficiency.
Here in Greenwich Village and in Chelsea, local retailers, such as comic book stores, record shops and thrift stores, use online platforms to showcase their products, share glimpses of their exciting finds and connect with fans, customers and discerning collectors. Restaurants are leveraging social media to tell their unique stories, showcase their specialties and schedule reservations. With thoughtful digital strategies, businesses are innovating, they’re more efficient and are no longer confined to local markets. They are reaching enthusiasts and aficionados globally.
Online messaging apps have also been a game-changer for vintage shops and niche retailers. Owners are leveraging these platforms to communicate with customers and connect with suppliers and collectors looking for specific items. These applications streamline communication, foster stronger relationships and create a sense of community among customers and other small business owners.
In an era of uncertainty, small businesses have turned to digital platforms not just for marketing but also to stay up to date on new government regulations. Constantly evolving rules and guidelines can pose challenges for compliance, and having digital tools and online resources allows businesses to identify new guidelines and adapt swiftly. Whether it’s understanding changes to the tax law, regulations surrounding emerging markets or navigating health and safety protocols, having an online presence ensures that small businesses remain compliant and resilient in the face of regulatory shifts.
The continued success of small businesses hinges on the availability of digital tools and resources. As government officials focus on supporting entrepreneurs, it is critical that the technology infrastructure that has been a lifeline for innovators remains accessible and robust. Investments in digital literacy programs, grants for technology adoption and initiatives to bridge the digital divide will ensure that small businesses, especially those in niche markets, like many right here in Greenwich Village, continue to thrive.
National Entrepreneurship Month is a time to celebrate the tenacity and persistence of small businesses in New York City. The unique restaurants and shops that define our cityscape have not only weathered past challenges but have harnessed the power of technology to innovate and thrive. It is crucial that we recognize the pivotal role that technology plays in the success of small businesses and insist that lawmakers advocate for policies that preserve and enhance the digital resources that have become indispensable for our entrepreneurs. And remember to shop small and shop local, online or in person.
Gericke is executive director, Greenwich Village Chelsea Chamber of Commerce.