Small businesses make up 95 per cent of all businesses in Alberta. Nearly two-thirds of those have only 1 to 4 employees. Here at the Red Deer & District Chamber of Commerce, our membership is certainly reflective of those numbers.
Far from being “big business,” most enterprises here in Central Alberta are those where the owner and operator are the same person and where family members work together on a day to day basis. These are the people that volunteer on various community boards and coach kids in their time off. It is probably fair to say that many people lump all businesses into just 1 group, which is not a fair assumption.
When you can count your entire staff on one hand, chances are the President, CEO, Owner, Managing Partner or whatever he or she is called is not sitting back in a luxurious office with their feet on the desk.
Most small business owners are the person who does everything from making the coffee, updating the business Facebook page, running payroll, creating the product, doing the sale, and then taking out the trash at the end of the day.
While dealing with the day to day operations, these are the folks that also have to develop and execute strategies to deal with incredible challenges and hurdles to the success of their business, such as the impending carbon levy and increase to minimum wage.
We as the Chamber feel it is important for people to know who and what exactly are the businesses that comprise Central Alberta. When we say something like “minimum wage will hurt business in Central Alberta,” we aren’t speaking on behalf of billion dollar publicly traded chains with hundreds of thousands of employees around the world. We are speaking on behalf of the owner-operator’s of local stores, restaurants, hotels, non-profit organizations, etc.
Every additional dollar that is lost in a slow economy, or goes into taxes and additional costs, is a dollar that is taken away from what the small business owner gets to take home to his or her own family, or a reduction in service from a community non-profit organization.
In one case, we had a restaurant owner tell us that thanks to the economic downturn and increase to minimum wage, his servers were taking home more money than he was. With further increases to minimum wage coming over the next couple of years, he was extremely concerned about how he would make ends meet and have the resources available to continue employing his 13 members of staff.
The ongoing recession and the recent changes in government policy have not left any business unscathed and created serious challenges for Alberta businesses to move forward.
Small Business Week gives us a much-needed opportunity to celebrate those that are really core to the heart and soul of our community. Those that take serious risk in choosing to start and run their own business, while creating incredible value for their employees and our community as a whole. We hope you will join us in celebrating the success and contribution of small business in our region!
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