It’s been often repeated that small business is the engine that drives the U.S. economy. President Obama has said it and so have Presidents George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan before him.
Not unlike a lot of entrepreneurs, my parents started their company as a very small business with big ideas for the future. When they opened a nine-stool A&W root beer stand in Washington 83 years ago, they believed they were on to something good. Over the years, their small business grew larger and larger and now we’re listed as one of the Fortune 500.
The road to success, however, was not always easy, as many small businesses today know far too well. My parents’ drive and fierce entrepreneurial spirits helped them get through incredibly difficult times, including the Great Depression.
I know what a hard time my parents had when they opened their second restaurant, which was the first drive in restaurant east of the Mississippi. They didn’t have enough money to pave the parking lot so they got cinders from the garbage collection company and put them on the lot so people would not get stuck in the mud. And they built their little restaurant out of ply wood and other pieces of wood that they could find. It was really a cheap deal but it was successful because the food and service were great.
Thankfully, there hasn’t been a repeat of the Great Depression but in today’s difficult economic times; just about every small business needs a boost.
One of our brands, Fairfield Inn & Suites, just launched the Small Business Road to Success Challenge. They’re giving 10 small business owners free stays at Fairfield Inn & Suites over the next three months. They’ll travel around the country, stay in their hotels and we’ll help them grow their businesses and compete to win a grand prize of $20,000. You can follow along as they blog and tweet from the road about their progress at www.fairfieldchallenge.com. Who knows, maybe one of these finalists will be the next Bill Gates or Bill Marriott, Sr.
I’m Bill Marriott and thanks for helping me keep Marriott on the Move.