It is an understatement to say this past year has changed us all. From the lockdown last March to where we stand today, we have all lived through an important part of history. Despite assistance from the government, financial stability quickly became a growing issue. When businesses began slowly reopening, the employment search was difficult. What does Gen Z decide to make out of this mess? Employ themselves.
Small businesses, you may have come across a couple. From doing nails to selling homemade sweaters, they are all self-driven.
The businesses usually begin with local sales. Clientele usually starts based on friends and family, then slowly expanding. The businesses grow through advertising, which for many small businesses include social media.
Margit Gomes is the 18-year-old founder and CEO of Visual Identity, a Burnaby-based custom-made ashtray business. When asked about how she grew her business, Margit says she only uses Instagram right now but may expand to TikTok eventually.
Instagram is where many beginners go when trying to expand their brand. The Instagram explore page is based on what you and your followers have in common, meaning it’s easy to have clientele stumble across your posts. Paid advertising is also available. On Instagram, the hashtag “smallbusiness” has 52.9 million posts.
TikTok is a video content creation platform, where business owners can produce a self-promotion video and upload it free of charge. You simply upload and hope to get the views. The hashtag “supportsmallbusinesses” has 86.8 million views on TikTok, and the hashtag “smallbusiness” has 12.7 million.
Gomes plans on expanding her business by adding new homemade products. She opened Visual Identity this last December.
“I was at work one day, and I thought to myself, I want to do something no one else is doing. I wanted to do something where I could be creative.”
Gomes’ focus, along with many other small businesses, is custom designs. The many businesses who chose to go this route help develop a more personal and creative result for clientele. Customers send in their preferences–colours, designs, words or names—and Gomes’ brings their ideas to life. This is definitely the case for small business owner, Karina Ibrayeva.
Karina Sweets owner Karina Ibrayeva runs a chocolate business from home. She makes custom orders of chocolate covered strawberries, but with a twist. Strawberries can be purchased disguised as a bouquet of flowers, and as for just the box of strawberry covered chocolates, they come with own custom twist, including flower petals, names and numbers can be added along with designs on the strawberries themselves.
But business does not always have to be just that. For Ibrayeva, this is her happy place.
“I started baking and cooking at the end of the sixth grade. It was my hobby, and all my friends told me I should open a small shop. I’m just enjoying the process, posting the content, designing it, taking photos, it takes a lot of time, but I like it.”
What many of her clients can’t tell from just looking at her business page is that she is also a full-time university student. Ibrayeva still puts in all the effort in her small business despite having to balance both.
Ibrayeva is constantly updating designs for clients and works to client convenience. She says her payment methods are very flexible and are up to the client. Thoughts of expanding the growing business after graduating are evident.
According to a survey done in 2020 by the British Columbia Ministry of Citizens’ Services, small businesses’ growth rate between 2014-2020 has gone up 14.4%. Small business employment also accounts for 53% of the 2.1 million private-sector jobs in British Columbia.
The self-driven generation contributes to the numbers that will only continue to rise. Items you probably could not find in store can easily be purchased through a small business, from custom wear to sweet goods, to ashtrays, and everything in between.
There truly is a small business out there for everyone.