Parting Words 2: We NEED Small Businesses to Thrive

Parting Words 2: We NEED Small Businesses to Thrive

Part Two of my parting words is a plea. It’s becoming harder and harder for small businesses to start up and survive. The big monopolies are getting bigger, and gaining access to new customers is becoming incredibly challenging and expensive. “Organic” ways of getting your business and product out there are just not feasible any more.   

When I started Ethel Studio, I gained a lot of organic traction via Instagram. It was great! I’d post something cool and the photo made it to a lot of eyes who followed us and far more who had yet to discover us. We really were able to grow this way. Those days are long gone. Several years ago, it became almost impossible to get our designs in front of new eyes via Instagram organically. Fast forward to today, and even ads (which have become more and more expensive and more useless with each passing year), bring minimal if any results. For example, with Google ads we would need to spend MANY thousands of dollars per month to make it into a threshold that would help us gain any traction or gain our money back at all. This makes it harder than ever for a small business with innovative new designs and ideas to get on the map. They would need a ton of money to even enter into the game. Gone are the days when you could just hustle to make it. Today, you need to be independently wealthy or have venture capital funding to gain ground. This is terribly sad to me.  

And what’s worse is that consumers are not incentivized to purchase from small businesses. It’s so easy to head over to Amazon, click, and buy a cheap thing to have it sent the next day. And while I totally understand that we all lead very busy and complex lives, that economic times are very tough and sometimes this is a person’s only option, I also know that very well off people continue to not care and just order from Amazon when they could easily support a small local business with just a few more minutes of minimal effort. 

Shopping in person at a local store can be even more rewarding and something I plead for you to do! Imagine: you could experience fresh air, meet a new friend, buy from a business owner directly and get to ask them questions and make them smile, run across new inspiration - the possibilities are endless! I personally went nearly Amazon-free several (4?) years ago, and it’s really not bad at all. 

It’s been a tough time seeing many of my creative counterparts close their businesses as well - often they are the ones trying to do better in the world, caring for their employees, making beautifully unique clothes and objects, and manufacturing locally. I hope and pray there will be another wave of talented minds putting their ideas out into the world, but I know there will be less and less given the current conditions. Please prove me wrong!