As a small business owner, you might feel like you’re “not that powerful” or “don’t have much influence” on society. Especially if you’re not generating tons of money just yet.
Maybe you think, “Once I’m raking in millions, then I can really make a difference.”
Yes…and no. Having more money is helpful, for sure. But even if your business is very new, not super profitable yet, or currently has just one employee, aka you, even then, you are more influential than you think.
With every business decision you make—from which photos to feature on your homepage, to which freelancers to hire, to which books you recommend to your clients—you have the power to change lives and make history.
3 ways you can have a massive impact as a small business owner:
1. You can create a work environment where it’s safe for your team to be themselves.
Black women are often told their natural hair is “inappropriate” and “unprofessional” for the workplace. This is wildly harmful and discriminatory but happens constantly.
As a small business owner, you can create a workplace (in person, online, or both) where it’s safe for employees to be fully themselves. A workplace where a Black woman can arrive at the office with a gorgeous Afro or beautiful locs and nobody gives her the side-eye. Or where your Queer assistant can be adorned head-to-toe in rainbow attire for Pride Month and be celebrated, not scorned.
Think how amazing it will feel to know, “I am providing a job where it’s safe to be you.” That’s such a gift to your employees. It’s rare, and it’s huge.
2. You can be the first in your industry.
As a small business owner, you can decide to be “the first,” and in doing so, you can make history and unlock doors.
For instance: let’s say you run a fitness center, and you’re producing a new promotional video for your website. You could decide to be the first company in your industry to feature Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) athletes, Muslim athletes, Deaf athletes, Veterans, bodacious curvy women, and other people outside the typical “slender white” mold.
Imagine how dope your video would be. And who’s doing this? Almost nobody. You could be the first. You could make a statement. You could make a lot of people feel seen and honored like never before. That’s a big deal.
3. You can pay people a dignified living wage.
The U.S. minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. In some States like California it’s higher, but not by much! Still ridiculously low. Even working 40 hours per week, almost nobody can survive on those piddly pennies. It’s fucked up.
As a small business owner, you can do something about this.
You’re hiring your first assistant? Or you’re expanding your team? You can choose to pay your people $20 an hour, minimum, with profit-sharing options so they can earn even more.
Plus, you can give your team the option to work from home, work a 4-day-a-week schedule and take Fridays off, and other options to improve their wellbeing. You’ll have a massively positive impact on their lives, and their families too.
“Small” doesn’t mean “powerless.” Quite the opposite.
Being a small business owner puts you in the unique position of being able to do hugely good things, nimbly and quickly, because there’s minimal red tape and bureaucracy, and because you are the boss.
Even if this is “day one” of your new fledgling business, already…
You are more influential than you think.
PS. Fill in the blank: “I will be the first small business in my industry to do _______, and in doing so, I will make history.” Say it. Then do it.
PPS. Just a few more ways you can make a big difference as a small business owner:
– Purchase products and services from Black- and POC-owned businesses.
– Feature Black and POC voices on your podcast or blog.
– Make sure your conference stage features Black and POC experts, too.
– Sign the Anti-racist Small Business Pledge and then uphold your promise.
– Run fundraisers for important causes, or donate a percentage of sales.
– Provide customers with a beautiful alternative to big-box chain stores.
– Celebrate Pride Month and express your unequivocal support for the LGBTQI+ community by throwing a virtual Pride party that raises money or has some other form of tangible impact.
– Provide grief counseling and other forms of support for employees who have to carry the pain of race-motivated violence daily.
– Be the boss who hires a visibly 7-month-pregnant woman who is totally qualified, instead of turning her away.
The list is endless. Your business might be small, but you are a big deal.