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Small Business Week 2013

Regardless of whether you're attending any events for Small Business Week 2013, it's a great opportunity to look at the history of small business in America, and plan for the future. This year, as inspiration, we want to share with you a list of innovating small businesses that not only made it big, but also made a big impact on the way we function as a society and relate to the world around us. Some of these companies have developed innovations that have defined us as a culture, for better or worse (the latter of this depends mostly upon your individual opinion and as always we shall strive to remain neutral).

Most businesses start out as small businesses with nothing more than barely enough money and an idea, or desire to change the world. Many small businesses do not succeed and close within their first five years. However, many who have started an unsuccessful business go on to start a successful one. This entrepreneurial spirit that is so strong within our culture, our nation, is worthy of celebration and reflection, and so without further ado, here is a list of influential small-business-turned-big-business companies in the US (in no particular order):


  1. Apple

  2. McDonald's

  3. Google

  4. Microsoft

  5. Sam's Club/Wal*Mart

  6. Facebook

  7. Amazon

  8. Ford


This list could probably be hundreds (or thousands) of names long. We've selected only a few in several industries to give you an opportunity to reflect on how the spark of an idea and an investment can grow and change the world. You might look at that list and think that perhaps McDonald's has contributed to health issues within our nation, that Amazon is responsible for the closure of so many Mom & Pop bookstores nationwide, or that Wal*Mart has driven out small businesses in small towns that have let the retailer open up shop. Alternatively, McDonald's was crucial to development of the franchise business model. Amazon revolutionized online retail. Wal*Mart has made many products more affordable.

Regardless of your stance on any of these companies, there are at least two sides to any coin. Besides that, what can't be ignored is that these companies started small and grew. They were once a small business. Whether growth of this sort is your intent, as a business owner, it's heartening to think about these companies, their success, and how their innovations are remembered to this day. Happy Small Business Week--how do you want your business to innovate the world?