As a spritely 16 year old, I was a semi successful skateboarder. I had a few sponsors and was paving my way in competitions and doing okay. The routine was school during the day, and the evenings and weekends were consumed with skateboarding. Rain, shine, snow or hurricane I found a way to skate, be it in a underpass or garage I practiced and practiced because I was in love with everything about it.
You may be asking yourself what this has to do with small business? Well, at that time you didn't see skateboarding on the TV, you didn't have gameshows dedicated to it and it certainly wasn't being considered for the Olympics. If you wanted to skate you did it on the street, there wasn't skateparks everywhere and you had to make do with what you had. The same story was being narrated by the companies that were producing skateboarding products.
99% of companies involved with skateboarding were owned by SKATEBOARDERS. They were so passionate about the scene that they got involved in making their passion their business and the result at the time was incredible. The quality of the products and the attention to detail was impeccable as skateboards were being made to unbelievable standards in peoples workshops by teams of 10, and the industry grew from strength to strength because of it. Skateparks started to open but they were also owned by skateboarders and they had a charm that you will not find these days. They were rugged, they were raw and the owners were involved and cared about the scene. They nurtured it and helped it grow.
You could hangout all day at a local skate shop or park and chat to the OWNER. They would help you with their knowledge, they would point you in the direction of spots if you were visiting or new to the area and if you needed help with products they knew everything inside out, because they were as passionate about it as you were.
Fast forward to the early 2000's and big businesses started to notice the passion within the scene and they jumped on the bandwagon. Nike and Adidas got involved, supermarkets started selling skateboard products, meeting rooms rallied together with shareholders discussing the profit margins to be made on opening a chain of skate shops and huge factories in China started churning out skateboards in the millions.
The passion and soul of skateboarding is still there but its not for the love as much as the potential paycheque from Nike, or a board sponsorship form some "World Industries" subsidiary.
My point here is that things were better before shareholders had a say, and choices were made by a board of people that have never held a skateboard. And that rule works the same for any business or industry.
Small businesses are vital in modern society. If you would rather drink coffee in a Starbucks than a small batch coffee shop owned by a local you're crazy. Not only will the coffee be infinitely better but the owner will almost certainly be there; they will able to speak to you about the beans, and the farmer in country that they came from who they almost certainly went to meet before they bought the coffee. Not only will their passion come through in their shop but you will help support the local business in the coffee plantation, who will be paid a fair price for the coffee you're drinking, as opposed to being completely exploited by the corporation coffee shops that are lining a shareholders pockets making millions from well documented exploitation of coffee farmers.
The same can be said for pubs & restaurants; would you rather sit next a warmly lit fireplace with a great beer in your hand in a locally owned pub? Or would you prefer the sticky floors, bright lights and cheap warm beer at Wetherspoons?
This is why small businesses are so important to us at SDM. We are as passionate about your business as you are, we understand the effort you put into your business and we are absolutely committed to make sure your digital presence is as passionately created and as beautiful as the worlds small enterprises.
Keep the passion, support your local whatever it may be and never drink bad coffee :)