THE BLOG
11/29/2013 04:28 pm ET Updated Jan 29, 2014

Remember Your Favorite Small Business This Holiday Season

Small businesses define the American spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship. They also help shape our communities, giving our neighborhoods their own unique flair. We love our corner coffee shops, local dry cleaners and novelty stores because they give us a sense of ownership and belonging.

There are some 28 million small businesses in the U.S. today. About 22 million of those businesses are very small -- self-employed individuals with no other employees. These businesses are the backbone of our economy, and they spur job creation in the U.S. Overall, small businesses account for more than 65 percent of net new jobs since 1995. In fact, since 1990, while big businesses lost four million jobs, small businesses gained eight million.

Yet many small businesses have been hit hard in recent years, first by the recession and now with the onset of President Obama's health care law. Between 2008 and 2010, about 200,000 small businesses shut down. Over the coming year, many small businesses that offer health care to their employees will face losing their insurance plans, just as many individuals are now, because they don't comply with Obamacare.

When it comes to our local businesses, the community need to rally around them to support and keep them viable. Small businesses don't just offer goods and services to their neighborhoods, they're also essential to building strong local economies. Money spent at a local small business is seven to eight times more likely to stay in the local community. These businesses also typically hire employees from the local area.

One great way to support local small businesses is by participating in Small Business Saturday. Held between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Small Business Saturday encourages shoppers to do some of their holiday shopping at their local businesses. Since American Express first launched the initiative in 2010, 70 percent of small businesses say the event helps them attract new customers. Consumers are jumping in as well, proud to "shop small" and give back to their communities.

Small Business Saturday has grown and spread to become a nationwide movement. And it isn't just limited to the Saturday after Thanksgiving; it has inspired people to visit their local businesses more frequently throughout the year. The movement is giving a powerful boost to the economy while encouraging innovation and entrepreneurship. In 2012, consumers spent an estimated $5.5 billion at small businesses.

This year, the holiday shopping season will be five days shorter than usual, since Thanksgiving falls late in the month. Small businesses across the country are already kicking into gear to prepare for Small Business Saturday and for the busy holiday shopping season. This year, 39 percent of small businesses plan to collaborate with other small businesses to make the event that much more memorable for shoppers.

This Small Business Saturday, I salute some of my family's favorite small businesses. Zack's Alteration Shop in Birmingham, Mich., keeps me looking sharp, and Zack helped my wife as she worked through two pregnancies. The Polish Market in Troy sells delicious poppy seed cake and kielbasa. In warmer weather we walk or bike to the Primi Piatti Market for mozzarella and prosciutto. Our five-year-old son has become a terrific swimmer thanks to his teachers at Goldfish Swim School in Birmingham. Goldfish founders Chris and Jenny McCuiston are living the American dream as the Birmingham school they created in 2005 has expanded to 15 schools in five states.

From Brooklyn, N.Y., to Boulder, Colo., and all across the country, small businesses are the backbone of our economy. The men and women who launch these businesses are examples of entrepreneurship and models of the American dream. Their innovations make our neighborhoods better places to live and strengthen our economy. Remember them and shop local on November 30 -- and throughout the year.

Gary Shapiro is president and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)®, the U.S. trade association representing more than 2,000 consumer electronics companies, and author of the New York Times best-selling books Ninja Innovation: The Ten Killer Strategies of the World's Most Successful Businesses and The Comeback: How Innovation Will Restore the American Dream. His views are his own. Connect with him on Twitter: @GaryShapiro.