Shop Small, Think Big on November 28th

The sale-induced mania of Black Friday is getting pushback from a growing number of retailers, led by national sporting goods chain REI, which will close altogether the day after Thanksgiving to give its employees and would-be customers the chance to burn some turkey calories and enjoy the outdoors.

More national brands have followed suit by at least pledging not to allow the Black Friday marathon to continue creeping into Thanksgiving Day – Bed Bath & Beyond, AT&T, Cabela’s and others are hoping cutting back hours pays off with positive buzz from those who see shopping encroaching on their family holiday festivities.

But holiday shoppers who want less frenzied crowds and a more meaningful experience are already pushing their excursions back another day…Small Business Saturday (coming up on November 28th) is an organized effort to encourage consumers to support the local businesses carving out a vibrant niche among big boxes and global conglomerates.

The Kelley School of Business supports and collaborates with companies of all sizes – many of our Evening MBA students come from major corporations like Cummins, Rolls-Royce, Roche and Eli Lilly. Amazon’s Central Indiana operation is recruiting a growing number of our supply chain management majors, and Kelly-educated CPAs are crunching numbers for multinational giants and modest s-corporations alike.

But Kelley Indianapolis recognizes the impact of small employers on our community and our economy. Businesses with fewer than 50 employees are creating jobs faster than any other segment of the U.S. economy; here in the Indy metro, more than 90% of establishments fall into this category.

Nine of every ten Kelley Indy graduates also stay here in the region after graduation, so we see the value in a diverse, vibrant market where career options exist among homegrown ventures and industry powerhouses, and everything in between.

In the Evening MBA program, the Kelley DIVE (Discovery, Innovation and Venture Enterprise) initiative has matched teams of MBA students with Indy start-ups for more than a decade, helping dozens of fledgling companies map growth strategies while giving Kelleys hands-on entrepreneurial expertise.

Through the years, we’ve also partnered with the Indy Chamber on the Main Street Initiative to help smaller-to-mid-market businesses be more competitive, and faculty have volunteered time and expertise training the business coaches who guide new employers through the Chamber’s Business Ownership Initiative.

Taking advantage of these hands-on learning experiences, many Indy alumni have taken the leap and started their own companies. Among them is Mauri Miller, who received the Emerging Entrepreneur Award at the 2015 Indiana Black Expo Summer Celebration for the success of his business, Measured Success Custom Clothing Company. (Mauri started the business plan for Measured Success as part of his ‘I-Core’ project as a Kelley undergrad.)

Young-but-growing firms are also investing more and more in MBA-level talent to compete with their larger counterparts. The Spring 2015 MBA Recruiting Trends Survey (a national poll of graduate business programs) shows the largest increase in recruiting activity this year happened among start-up companies – the third year in a row that new ventures showed the strongest growth in recruiting! It’s clear that small businesses with big dreams recognize the value of managerial skill and strategic thinking in preparing for growth.

So we at the Kelley School encourage everyone to shop local on Small Business Saturday (and don’t forget a trip to the IUPUI Bookstore, too). Local business creates 80% of all new jobs in the Indianapolis region, and we’re proud of the efforts of our alumni and faculty in creating opportunities for future Kelley grads!