By Alex Gladu
“This time, there is no one big thing. The next big thing is a thousand little things.” Collectively, these little things make up the nationwide movement that Deluxe Corporation calls the “small business revolution.” The revolution is based on the idea that small businesses, rather than large corporations, are the key to revitalization efforts and economic stability throughout American cities. In a powerful documentary, also called “Small Business Revolution,” Deluxe Corporation tells the story of several small businesses and the role that they play in society.
In 2008, the global economy took a big hit thanks to the Great Recession. Although the recession hurt both big and small businesses, the blame couldn’t necessarily be spread equally. “If we know one things from the economic meltdown, small businesses did not screw the global economy – corporations did,” Harvard University historian Tim McCarthy said in the film. Now that the economy has had some time to recover, it’s less important to point the finger at its weaknesses than it is to celebrate the engines of growth that are putting the country back on track.
The brief, 25-minute documentary does this by letting business experts like McCarthy, “Shark Tank” star Robert Herjavec and the Small Business Administration’s Maria Contrera-Sweet share their perspectives. Together, they present a historical overview of the American economy and a discussion of how small businesses have and should fit into it.
Perhaps the most compelling part of the documentary, though, is the way that it tells the story of diverse small business owners across the country. There’s Kim Bartmann, who owns and operates eight local restaurants in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Bartmann, who has worked in the restaurant industry since a young age, set out on her own to bring a pleasant work environment and the ever-important work-life balance to an industry that isn’t known for either of those qualities. Similarly, there’s Lynne McDaniel, who owns an antique furniture store in Chicago with her husband. McDaniel wanted to change the negative connotation of her neighborhood, so she brought other local business owners together to advocate for better community policies. Then, there’s Ned Staebler, whose quote introduced this blog post. Staebler is president and CEO of TechTown Detroit, a nonprofit incubator for startups and entrepreneurs in the city. Staebler works with small businesses at their very earliest stages to help them grow and create positive change in the community. These stories, and the others included, help to tell the larger story of small businesses across the country in a way that resonates with viewers.
Deluxe Corporation, a national check brand, provides business solutions that are tailored to small businesses. The documentary is part of a 100th anniversary celebration, in which Deluxe will travel across the country to tell the stories of 100 small businesses. In this way, Deluxe joins several other big brands, like Independent We Stand sponsors STIHL and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, in honoring and supporting the small businesses that drive local economies and give back to local people.
“The revitalization of American cities is the challenge of our age,” Staebler said in the film. Whether it’s Detroit, Chicago, Minneapolis or a small town in Arkansas, small business owners are at the forefront of a revolution to accomplish this revitalization. Watch the full documentary, below, and learn more about the project on Vimeo.