For its policymaking, the U.S. government defines small businesses as those with 500 or fewer employees. Compared to a multinational corporation with thousands of employees around the globe, a family-owned tool-and-die shop with 100 employees might very well be small.
But for many folks, the term "small business" evokes the mom-and-pop bakery on the corner or the plumber with one truck and one helper. Our government refers to these as micro businesses, those with fewer than five employees, and even though they're small in scale, they play a huge role on our local and national economy.
The Association for Enterprise Opportunity is a micro business advocacy group based in Washington, D.C.. According to the AEO, 92 percent of all American businesses are those with fewer than five employees, and the direct employment from those small businesses (including working owners) amounted to 26 million jobs in 2011.
Direct sales and receipts and indirect and induced economic output of micro businesses combined to result in an almost $5 trillion economic impact in 2011, AEO reports. Correspondingly, micro businesses contributed $135.5 billion in tax and fee revenues to federal, state and local governments that same year.
So, during this holiday shopping season, remember how important micro businesses are to our country. Small Business Saturday, Nov. 29, is a great day to patronize locally owned stores, but these economic powerhouses deserve our attention and respect all the year 'round.
To learn more about micro businesses and their impact, check out AEO's fun and info-filled report Bigger Than You Think.