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Small businesses serve as backbone

According to the SBA’s report on economic growth since 1995 small businesses have generated 64 percent of new jobs and paid 44 percent of the total United States private payroll. Some people may underestimate the impact of small business on the total US economy but the facts prove out that when it comes to driving economic growth small businesses contribute more than their fair share.  Nationally a small business is defined as a corporation, LLC or proprietorship with 500 employees or less. According to Entrepreneur Magazine, there are between 25-27 million small businesses in the US. That accounts for 60-80 percent of all US jobs. A recent study by Paychex says that small businesses produce 13 times more patents than larger firms.

The proliferation of regulations has a dramatic effect on small business as well as larger companies. It has become an overwhelming expense increasing operational costs which ultimately are passed on to the consumers. The secret to survival is a focus on excellent customer service and providing high quality products and services while at the same time controlling expenses.  Innovative approaches with dedication to the time, money and talents to making a business successful will also make our economy more resilient in these uncertain times.

Beyond the Rainbow was recently named by the Brookhaven —Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce as the outstanding small business of the year. Co-owner Anna Day Douchard has continued the legacy in this very successful family-owned business that has not only survived but thrived for years in our market. She stated several things relating to the success in the business. One is location being of utmost importance. She grew up in the business since it was opened in 1985, when she was only 7 years old. She has grown with the business and loves it. Her desire is to continue this successful business by keeping it fresh. Her goal is to have a “feel good” atmosphere when people come in the store to shop  “Being a vibrant, happy place, not being stale or stuffy is important,” she said. “Surround yourself with the right people and you can get it done.”

She likes a challenge and likes problem solving. She and her team want to figure it out and get it done. “The mood, atmosphere is contagious. Teamwork can give you the competitive advantage,” she said.

Included in her vision of how things ought to play out are the following:

• Hiring and retaining top notch employees who are team players

• Effective merchandising, including advertising, arrangement of inventory, sales process

• Delegation to others on the team

• Intentional focus on serving and satisfying customers

• Good interaction between customers and employees

• Having fun in business

Congratulations to the entire team and family of Beyond the Rainbow for their accomplishments.

Brookhaven is such a shopping paradise abounding with many small businesses. I drove into downtown McComb recently and it is all but boarded up. It is old looking and close to abandoned. Even though we have some empty store fronts downtown it is still vibrant and for the most part occupied by many successful small businesses, restaurants and offices. Our downtown is fertile with start-ups, which is a very healthy sign. One of the new successful businesses downtown is The Well Dressed Man owned by Kensy Hoff. Hott opened this men’s store just over a year ago. She has a background in sales training and retail. She moved back home to Brookhaven just over two years ago and recognized a shortage in our market of men’s clothing stores. There are multiple women’s boutiques, but a shortage of men’s retail outlets.

She said, “I like interacting with customers, getting to know people and what is going on in their lives. I strive to have available what the shopper wants to buy.”

She is happy with her downtown location and envisions being there for years to come. She plans to expand her digital marketing strategy with a website offering online ordering in the future. She has a passion for meeting customer needs and providing excellent customer service. She has a focus on buying locally and is happy to be a part of our downtown revitalization.

It is exciting to visit with small business owners who are so upbeat about the future of their businesses. The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in Lincoln County. It is important for all of us who are consumers to shop with our local businesses where we find personalization, great choice of products, competitive pricing, excellent customer service and commitment to our local economy.

Becky Vaughn-Furlow retired from Trustmark Bank as executive vice president and human resources director. She can be contacted by emailing bvaughnfurlow@gmail.com.