Startups
Data / Economics / Resources / Small businesses / Startups

‘Small but mighty’: Microbusinesses are unsung heroes of Baltimore’s economy

Baltimore has an above-average number of online microbusinesses, according to GoDaddy research initiative Venture Forward. Economy watchers, pay attention.

Can microbusinesses deliver big economic impact? Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

Baltimore may have a hidden economic talent: microbusinesses.

The metro area has 192,000 online microbusinesses, with 32,500 in the city limits itself. That’s a greater density of microbusinesses than many comparable cities and with that comes a greater positive economic impact, according to Venture Forward, a research initiative from web domain provider GoDaddy.com.

Microbusinesses are the people selling platters on Instagram, advertising commissions for art, or styling hair and using a site to book appointments. A hustler by any other name. What makes them mirco is that they’re often one-person shops. Or, if there are employees, the businesses are still too small to be using an employee identification number. They also might be too small to be on the radar of local small business organizations, but they make an impact on the community and economy nonetheless.

“You can’t create policy for what you can’t see,” Jim Hock, a chief of staff for the U.S. Department of Commerce during the Obama administration, said to the Venture Forward researchers when they talked about the data with former policymakers.

GoDaddy, through its research initiative with Venture Forward and partnerships with universities like the University of Iowa, Arizona State University and UCLA, has spent two years looking at data from the U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Economic Innovation Group. They also examined their own data and research on GoDaddy users to quantify the impact of microbusinesses and solo-entrepreneurs on the local economy.

“They’re small but mighty,” Robert Brown, senior director of customer insights and analytics at GoDaddy, said of microbusinesses.

Through the research, GoDaddy found a lift in household median income by $500 in communities with an active microbusiness. Every microbusiness creates at least two jobs upon creation, and they make local economies more resilient through pandemics or other economic disasters.

The Baltimore metro area, according to GoDaddy’s data, has an affinity for microbusinesses. There are more of them here than in an average city, and collectively they have a higher impact on the economy. Their presence can underlie trends: In the Baltimore area, the three-year change in median household income increased by $8,797, versus the national average of $5,561.

“There’s this relationship between this type of [microbusiness] activity and these sorts of economic outcomes,” said Brown. “We think that it’s important that policymakers understand that there’s a lot of this activity going on, and it’s having this positive impact that they might not be able to explain without understanding what those relationships are.”

 

Data shows microbusiness impact in Baltimore. (Image courtesy of GoDaddy.com)

What microbusinesses need is what any other business needs: better access to capital, more digital literacy training, broadband access, and the sorts of grants and programs that help entrepreneurs get their ventures off the ground. Where a microbusiness differs from a small business is the amount of assistance needed to make an impact. A small business might need a few thousand in subsidies to get off the ground, where a microbusiness only needs a few hundred.

The data indicates there’s an opportunity: Baltimore has a chance to support microbusinesses and carve out a niche, as it already seems to outperform larger cities.

Data shows Baltimore metro in comparison to other cities (photo courtesy of GoDaddy.com)

Donte Kirby is a 2020-2022 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation.

Before you go...

Please consider supporting Technical.ly to keep our independent journalism strong. Unlike most business-focused media outlets, we don’t have a paywall. Instead, we count on your personal and organizational support.

3 ways to support our work:
  • Contribute to the Journalism Fund. Charitable giving ensures our information remains free and accessible for residents to discover workforce programs and entrepreneurship pathways. This includes philanthropic grants and individual tax-deductible donations from readers like you.
  • Use our Preferred Partners. Our directory of vetted providers offers high-quality recommendations for services our readers need, and each referral supports our journalism.
  • Use our services. If you need entrepreneurs and tech leaders to buy your services, are seeking technologists to hire or want more professionals to know about your ecosystem, Technical.ly has the biggest and most engaged audience in the mid-Atlantic. We help companies tell their stories and answer big questions to meet and serve our community.
The journalism fund Preferred partners Our services
Engagement

Join our growing Slack community

Join 5,000 tech professionals and entrepreneurs in our community Slack today!

Trending

How to encourage more healthcare entrepreneurship (and why that matters)

Find out what type of heat wave you’re really in for with NOAA’s HeatRisk dashboard

How AI can revolutionize education's quest for truth

Baltimore Money Moves: Howard County cyber company lands $150M Series D

Technically Media