By Andrea H. Reay
President/CEO of the Seattle Southside Chamber of Commerce
Small Business, Big Opportunity
As a Chamber, we pride ourselves on serving the needs of our business community, regardless of the size of that business. My father was a small business owner. He had one full-time employee and 2 part-time employees (that weren’t related to us) working in his store. That meant that, in many ways, those employees became our family members. When I was too sick to go to school, I came to the store. My dad would make a little spot for me to curl up in a storage room and employees would come and check on me throughout the day. When employees got sick or couldn’t come into work, I canceled my plans and came to work in their stead. There was no separation between work and family life—work was family life. This is the life of a small business owner. Their passion, their livelihood, their world is in many ways that business.
Here at the Seattle Southside Chamber of Commerce, we understand small business and we serve small businesses every day. Small businesses are also the lifeblood of our local economy. More people are employed by small businesses than all our top employers combined. Ensuring our small businesses have the skills and resources to succeed helps to keep our community growing and thriving.
Here are a few ways that we help small business owners:
- Universal Membership – Small business owners have enough expenses that they are tracking daily just to keep the lights on. That is why our Chamber launched a FREE membership program that allows small businesses to join our organization and access our benefits and resources at no cost. We are able to provide this opportunity because our other members are literally paying it forward with their investments. They know that we are better and stronger together and are generously sharing their success.
- Marketing and Promotion – My dad never had a website or a social media account for his business, and if he wouldn’t have sold it in 2009, he probably wouldn’t have been able to maintain that business without one. Social selling is huge and impossible to do on your own. Connecting with the Chamber creates instant access to help elevate and create access to more customers.
- Resources – Whether it’s education workshops, referrals, networking, or simple information sharing regarding updates that could impact their business, we are there. One member told us recently: “You are so much better than Google!” We couldn’t agree more. Google will never provide a personal introduction or distill information specifically for you—we do that and more, and we’re happy to do so.
All businesses start somewhere. Sometimes with nothing more than a dream or an idea. As a nonprofit service organization dedicated to growing and building a stronger and more vibrant community, we can’t think of anything more important than serving and fostering those dreams into reality. We all might start small, but with care and attention, we can create big opportunity for our community.
Thank you to all of our small business owners for investing in our community. We are proud to invest in you.
This article was written by Andrea H. Reay, the President/CEO of Seattle Southside Chamber of Commerce, “A voice for business, a leader in the community.” Seattle Southside Chamber has served the communities of Burien, Des Moines, Normandy Park, SeaTac, and Tukwila since 1988. For more information about the Chamber, including a full list of member benefits and resources, please visit their website at www.SeattleSouthsideChamber.com