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This article originally appeared in The Daily Herald

While many of us celebrated small businesses this weekend on Small Business Saturday, Byline Bank wants to remind everyone about the importance of keeping small businesses in mind throughout the year.

Every November, targeted Shop Local campaigns drive support for our nation’s nearly 32 million independent businesses. The Small Business Administration reports that U.S. consumers have spent roughly $23.3 billion historically on Small Business Saturday alone. It’s a promising and fun way to kick off the holiday season.

But it’s not enough. Chicagoland’s diverse shops, restaurants and service providers deserve our love not just for a day, and not even just for a season, but all year round.

Small businesses serve as mainstays of our communities and choosing them keeps our hard-earned money local. Plus, many small businesses give back to their neighborhoods in other ways, from supporting local charities and providing quality jobs for at-risk youth, to hosting community gardens.

And now more than ever, these community gems need our help.

A harsh economic landscape for small businesses

Local business owners showed incredible fortitude and imagination through COVID-19 impacts – and now they face new economic challenges:

  • Interest rate hikes: Rising interest rates increase market volatility, adding to the cost of borrowing and making it hard for business owners to make decisions on growth and other areas of needed investment.
  • Staffing shortages: Recruitment and retention is challenging for businesses of every size. With many larger employers offering bonuses or higher wages, though, it can be especially hard for small businesses to compete.
  • Supply chain lags: For small businesses, it costs money to carry inventory and to meet customer demand and deliver on time, they will likely need to order inventory sooner to contend with extreme shipping delays.
  • Inflation: Smaller companies’ profits are being crunched by larger companies with more leverage to negotiate pricing. Combine inflation with supply chain shortages, and it’s an exponential use of working capital to hold more – and more expensive – inventory.

The bottom line: It’s more expensive to run a business today than at nearly any other time in history. To stay ahead, small businesses need committed community support, and they need dependable access to working capital.

That’s where we can all play a part.

Working together to champion small businesses

Supporting local businesses takes a concerted effort from government, financial institutions, community organizations and private citizens alike.

At Byline Bank, our team of business banking experts work closely with customers to provide them with retail and business banking solutions, advisory services and dependable access to working capital. We empower business owners to time inventory purchases to get better prices, avert payroll crunch and capitalize on new market opportunities in today’s economic environment.

Led by Stephen Ball in Chicago, the business banking team includes community banking leaders Robert Baitler in Oswego; Tony Brylewski in Tinley Park; Jennifer Cortese in Oak Park; Tim Harrington in Evanston; and Ushma Patel.

We also support funding for local chambers of commerce and partner with micro lenders and organizations like the Small Business Advocacy Council, which lobbies to address issues facing small business owners across Illinois.

You can also contribute by choosing local as a rule, not just sometimes, but every time you need to shop. Frequent your favorite establishments, of course, but also have fun exploring other small businesses. Keep up with local happenings, too, by liking your favorite businesses on social media, and following #ShopSmall.

Ultimately, every one of us can foster a more supportive environment for local businesses. And, it’s a win-win for all because by frequenting them, we can enjoy a vast array of local goods and expertise that enriches our communities, and our lives, all year round.

For more information on how to obtain support for your small business, visit

By Stephen Ball, Head of Business Banking at Byline Bank