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Why Small Business Owners Are Feeling Hopeful About the Future

Small business owners have faced unprecedented hardships over the past two years, yet every day I hear story after story of entrepreneurs who are facing challenges head on, finding innovative solutions, and serving as leaders and job creators in their communities. 


Tom Sullivan

Vice President of Small Business Policy, U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Take for example TJ and Hadley Douglas, owners of The Urban Grape in Boston, and the recent winners of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s annual Dream Big Small Business of the Year award.  

Working his way up through Boston’s restaurant and wine scene, TJ Douglas didn’t encounter many other people of color, yet he opened a successful wine shop dedicated to expanding access to the wine industry for the Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) community. 

When COVID-19 forced The Urban Grape to close its retail store, TJ and Hadley added a text support line to make remote shopping easier, quadrupled their delivery fleet, and hosted virtual tastings and educational events. When the store was looted during racial unrest and protests, they focused their attention on creating an Urban Grape Wine Studies Award for Students of Color to fund internships and wine studies classes at Boston University. 

Fighting adversity

The resilience of entrepreneurs is evident from the conversations I have with small business owners like TJ and Hadley Douglas every day. Our Dream Big Awards received the highest number of applicants ever this year, and each of their remarkable stories are the threads of the economic fabric in our communities.

But there’s more than just anecdotal evidence suggesting small businesses are resilient and hopeful right now. The latest data from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and MetLife’s Small Business Index shows small business owners are optimistic about their current business health and recognize improvement in the overall economy. More than half believe the health of their business is good, two-thirds believe their cash flow situation is good, and 58 percent expect their revenue to increase in the next year. One in three say the U.S. economy is in good health — higher than any point since the pandemic began.

All this comes at the same time small business owners are citing ongoing challenges that include inflation, worker shortages, revenue, COVID-19 health and safety guidelines, and supply chain disruptions as top-of-mind concerns. In fact, 73 percent said rising prices have had a significant impact on their business in the past year, while 80 percent of restaurants and shops said it is difficult for them to manage disruptions to their supply chains. 

Now is the time for policy leaders and elected officials at the local, state, and national levels to recognize and support America’s small business owners who choose business as their calling, who serve their communities and our economy, who persist through times of caution and times of growth, and continue to empower our national economic recovery. 

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