Small Business Majority Blog

Small Business Matters

National Small Business Week is fast approaching (May 12-16), and we want to showcase the amazing small business owners across the country who work hard all year long making their communities and our economy strong. And how do we want to showcase you?

By hosting a photo contest, of course!

Show us what it is you and your small business do every day through a photo of your choice. Gather your employees and take a team snapshot, make a homemade sign for your business or take some candids of you and your employees hard at work and send those pictures to us. You can submit your photos by email to dmcmanus@smallbusinessmajority.org.

The more creative you can be, the better! You’ve got from now until Friday, May 9 to get those photos to us so we can pick our winners. We’ll choose 5 winners, one of which will be featured on our website and social media platforms each day during Small Business Week. And because we know we’ll be getting some great submissions, we will look to feature additional businesses in the future as well!

Be sure to check out some of last year’s winners on our Facebook page to see all the awesome things small business owners have done in the past. Think you can top them? Then get ready to smile and say cheese!

As part of our Talking Back Tuesday series, Small Business Majority is launching a new survey each week to get a better understanding of where small business owners stand on important issues.

This week’s issue is employment nondiscrimination. Our polling found that over 2/3 of entrepreneurs believe federal law should prohibit employment discrimination against gay and transgender people, while 70% of small business owners in states without such policies believe their state should have laws banning this type of discrimination. Now we want to hear from you directly. Take our survey and let us know your thoughts on employment nondiscrimination.

Interested in keeping the conversation around employment nondiscrimination going? Feel free to share our survey with your friends and follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram. You can share more of your thoughts by  joining in on our #talkbacktues discussion.

online poll by Opinion Stage

Erika Feinberg, CEO of ActiveForever

Erika Feinberg’s entire professional life revolves around the promotion of wellness and a healthy, active lifestyle, all while wearing a smile.

Feinberg, CEO and “Chief Happiness Officer” of ActiveForever, heads the nation’s largest eCommerce provider of medical, safety, fitness and productivity products.

“I’ve always been amazed by the human body,” she said. “Due to my upbringing, I’ve always had a profound appreciation for life, as well.”

That passion, and her nearly 10 years in the tech industry, led Feinberg to become very well known in business circles in Scottsdale. “I was encouraged by several of the business leaders here in Arizona to break off and start my own company,” she said.

She went back to her human health interest as inspiration for starting ActiveForever. “I wanted to leap into healthcare, but not into the heart of the regulated aspects of it,” she said. “We wanted a different type of customer and business.”

Stretching far beyond just an online retailer, ActiveForever serves as a fully integrated sales, marketing, warehousing and shipping agency. The company actively seeks out manufacturers who want to focus heavily on production and innovation in the health and wellness industry as partners. ActiveForever then swoops in to assist with sales and marketing duties, making for a truly collaborative effort between them and their vendors.

“We are an absolute dream come true for any credible organization launching or reinvigorating a product line into our niche, and wants tech infrastructure, marketing, sales and logistics off their plate,” she said.

That niche includes anything from fitness products like exercise equipment, to safety and wellness products like crutches and safety ramps.

It’s not enough to just promote an active lifestyle, though. For Feinberg, it also means embracing one and living it herself.

“If I’m going to live life, I’m going to make it the best life possible for my family and for everyone I touch, which requires health and energy,” she said.

That lifestyle also extends to mental health and well-being, which is why Feinberg tackles her work with a positive, can-do attitude. She didn’t just give herself the title “Chief Happiness Officer,” she earned it.

Feinberg, also known as the company's "Chief Happiness Officer," outside of ActiveForever's Scottsdale, AZ base

The genesis of that title came after a particularly brutal business day with all sorts of vendor, customer and employee issues, Feinberg recalls. “I ran around helping solve one issue at a time, and at the end of the day I said, ‘There…now everyone is happy!’ One of my managers called me the Chief Happiness Officer, and at that moment, we all agreed that’s what it’s all about.”

With the right attitude and right business in place, it was time for Feinberg to carve out her place in the industry.

“Nothing excites me more than brilliant collaborations and making an impact,” she said. “Much of my success is due to my desire to turn left when everyone is turning right.”

That fresh approach has led ActiveForever to become a market leader in the health and wellness industry. With perfectionist standards, ActiveForever has now become the go-to business for wellness vendors who not only want to launch products, but want a proven sales track record and a fulfilling partnership.

“It’s easier to be a copycat, but we’re not. We’ve had to invest in a tremendous amount of operational infrastructure to [live up] to our standards,” she said.

And with more than a million customers nationwide, Feinberg says ActiveForever’s next goal is to get to know its clientele better. “We sincerely want to make all of their lives better,” she said.

If one person can help get people healthy and happy, it’s ActiveForever’s Chief Happiness Officer herself. After all, nothing’s more infectious than a smile.

As part of our Talking Back Tuesday series, Small Business Majority is launching a new survey each week to get a better understanding of where small business owners stand on important issues.

This week’s issue is family medical leave. Our polling has found 4 out of 5 small business owners support the Family Medical Leave Act allowing employees to take job-protected leave. Now we want to hear from you directly. Take our survey and let us know your thoughts on family medical leave.

Interested in keeping the conversation around family medical leave going? Feel free to share our survey with your friends and follow us on Facebook and Twitter. You can share more of your thoughts by  joining in on our #talkbacktues discussion.

online poll by Opinion Stage

EFS Energy logo

Solar power is a great, efficient energy source that has yet to really catch fire for the average consumer. But one small business owner in the Show-Me State is looking to enlighten his fellow Missourians, one solar product at a time.

Kyle Barber, managing partner of EFS Energy, has been a passionate advocate for solar energy for much of his life.

“I always asked the question, ‘why aren’t we doing it?’” said Barber, a pressing question that he would turn into his very own business venture in 2010. EFS Energy was one of the only solar companies in St. Louis at the time.

Barber noted a particular type of consumer was being overlooked in the energy market, so he seized the opportunity to cater to them.

“Our vision was to have an inviting, friendly solar store,” he said. EFS Energy thus launched as the everyman’s version of a solar store, featuring products your typical homeowner could use—not just heavy-duty commercial products. EFS Energy’s storefront contains everything from LED products to small, energy efficient items like solar garden or front door lights in an effort to help its customers reduce the amount of energy they consume and become more self-sufficient.

Offering easy to use energy efficient products allows customers to follow Barber’s tagline: “Reduce and produce your own energy.”

Spreading the word about solar power and energy is no easy feat, though. Many people don’t have all the facts about solar—from what it costs to install to the benefits that can be reaped. This makes it difficult to not only inform the masses, but to find educated experts to employ.  “Education isn’t cheap and no school out here markets solar energy specifically,” he said.

Kyle Barber, managing partner of EFS Energy

So Barber puts employees through an in-house training program, then turns EFS Energy’s educational focus toward the community. “We try to educate people on why they should be doing [solar],” he said. “People may be interested, but may not know where to go,” he said. “We work closely with the community and do a lot of events like high school class visits to raise awareness and market ourselves.”

EFS Energy also offers free site evaluations and estimates to inform people on how they can improve their energy standards.

With various obstacles to overcome in making solar a more viable option for people, you’d think Barber would be sweating his job. Rather, he basks in its glow.

“Owning and operating a small business is never easy, but it’s rewarding at the same time,” he said.

With that attitude, you can bet that even after the sun sets, Barber’s still thinking about how to convert another person to solar.