Near the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art stands an iconic symbol, a statue, for Americans. This statue represents a man who would get hit over and over; sometimes he would fall, but ALWAYS he would get up and keep on fighting. That man was Rocky.
Rocky is just one of the many underdog stories we love here in America. We want the little guy to win. We want him to overcome the big forces that seem to have all the money and resources to do whatever they want. The little guy has to be thrifty, cunning, and come up with a unique plan so he can win in the end. The underdog’s secret and x-factor is heart. They simply want it more!
The underdog is ingrained into our blood as Americans. Just look back at how we started as a nation. To win our independence, America had to go up against the number one power in the world. England was such a powerful country, that it was said, “the Sun never sets on the British Empire”. Looking at the resources the Americans had in comparison to the British, we should have had no shot in winning our independence. What was the secret to our success? It was our x-factor, we wanted it more!
It seems like today’s underdog attention focus is on sports and movies, and we seem to forget about the real-life, day-to-day underdog battles that are happening all around us; those of the small business. Within the last few decades, the buying and consumption of objects are unique. No longer are we going to markets and vendors to buy our food, instead we go to places such as, Acme, Shoprite, or a Costco. If we need household supplies, we go to Target or Wal-Mart. All of our spending takes place at “Big Box” stores. Small businesses may not have all the fancy commercials or advertising that large businesses have, but they do have quality products.
Small businesses are usually run by owners, which means that they are extremely invested into the day-to-day events of their business. When I go to the grocery store, I feel like I am experiencing the McDonalization process. I just go through the check out line as fast as possible with very little communication with the clerk working there. To add onto this, many stores are removing human clerks and replacing them with “self check out.” That’s the beauty of small businesses, they have people to interact with you. Lets not forget the importance of human-to-human contact. These business owners know the product, which they are selling inside and out, so it is easier to help customers by answering questions and solving problems. Other than the human touch, small business is extremely helpful to America’s economy. Forbes Magazine had some interesting statistics about small business. “There are almost 28 million small businesses in the US.” “Over 50% of the working population works in a small business.” “Small businesses have generated over 65% of the net new jobs since 1995”. You see, small business doesn’t just offer quality products with people who know what they are talking about, but they also provide a ton of jobs for the American economy. These small businesses could range anywhere from Mom and Pop pizza shops to jewelry stores.
One example of these small businesses, which offers many jobs to Americans, is credit unions. According to the Credit Union National Association’s (CUNA) mid-year report of 2014, the nation’s credit unions employ about 270,000 people.
The origins of credit unions date back to Germany within the 19th century. Herman Schulze-Delitzsch worked with his community to organize a mill and bakery, which would sell bread and reduce prices. Many years later in Quebec, Canada, Alphonse Desjardins organized La Caisse Populaire de Levis to help the citizens have affordable credit because everyone was being charged ridiculous prices for loans. Desjardins would a few years later open the first credit union within the United States of America, the St. Mary’s Cooperative Credit Association. Credit unions’ purpose is to help the little guy, the underdog, be able to acquire goods and services at reasonable prices. Credit unions’ purpose isn’t to get the Board of Directors or shareholders rich, it is to help all the members succeed financially.
A more modern example of this is First Financial Federal Credit Union (FFFCU), based in Wall, N.J. FFFCU was started by a group of Asbury Park schoolteachers during the Great Depression. This small group of people worked together to support each other and grow. Many years later, in 2003, the credit union expanded to support all who live, work, worship, or attend school within Monmouth or Ocean Counties.
Just this week research has come out from American Customer Satisfaction Index, proclaiming that credit unions have the highest customer satisfaction score of all financial institutions. To quote CUNA on this, “ACSI…ranks credit unions substantially better than traditional banks on every component including expectations, quality, value, loyalty and having lower complaint rates. This is the seventh consecutive year that credit unions have ranked above banks.” You see, the little guy, the underdog can out-perform the bigger business of the world! Credit unions outperform banks, because they care more about their financial cliental, their member-owners. Credit unions work harder to help their members, because they have that x-factor, they have heart!
Credit unions, pizza shops, jewelry stores, and all other small businesses have a special day to celebrate how they stick it to the “Big Box” stores by providing quality goods to their communities. Saturday November 29, 2014 is the fourth annual Small Business Saturday. Small Business Saturday is a national event to give back to the small businesses of America. All over the USA, small businesses will be working together to help customers see how they are such an essential component of the community. These businesses provide to our communities through job creation, sponsorships, and quality products. So, go find those small businesses that are participating in Small Business Saturday within your community and visit them with your families. If you would like more information just go to their Facebook page!
So, go visit your neighborhood small business! Go say hi to your local credit union employees! Go and witness these everyday underdog stories prevail right in front of your eyes!