Higher prices, limited services affect small businesses

INDIANAPOLIS – As people return to events at full capacity, the Art Haus Balloon Company says business is booming.

“People are starting to organize events again, so we’re getting in touch with our customers again,” said Rye Von, owner. “They are organizing these mass celebrations to compensate for the fact that they have not been able to do so for two years.

Von opened his store at the Circle Center in the city center a little earlier than usual on Friday to kick off the busy weekend of customers.

These days, its bubbles are not the only ones seeing inflation.

As it has been in business since 2019, it is overcoming its share of today’s challenges, including the continuing inflation of materials and consumables. As costs fluctuate, Von said she has temporarily abandoned her set price list to take over the changes.

“It’s just based on how much it will cost me to get it in the first place so I can deliver it to another customer,” she said.

“I can quote one thing because the price is one day, and then when they actually pay their invoice and I go to buy it, the price has already changed,” she said. “I can’t go back and change their price, so I’ll have to eat that difference and I’ll know for the next customer that I have to charge more if they want the same thing.”

The lack of supplies has also limited Von, forcing her to look for various distributors for items that are usually easy, such as basic colors from balloons to helium.

A series of challenges continue to change the way small business owners, such as Von, do business. So much so, it raises fears for the future.

According to the National Federation of Independent Business, small business owners surveyed in the United States say they are less optimistic now than they were nearly 50 years ago.

“Three main things are inflation, supply shortages and labor shortages,” said Sarah McInnis, vice president of small business development at the Indie Chamber of Commerce. “We do our best to be responsive to help them with these problems.”

MacInnis says the pandemic has highlighted many differences in historically marginalized and underrepresented communities and business owners.

“Through COVID, fortunately, one of the silver plaques of this was that many programs were launched in support of these communities,” she added.

MacInnis points to the success of the Chamber’s Business Ownership Initiative, which is the leading small business agency within the chamber’s entrepreneurial services department.

MacInnis says the BOI has been around for more than 25 years and was created to provide resources and support, mostly historically, for these groups.

“We were able to borrow more than $ 20 million from our community in Central Indiana and continue to do so,” she said. “Much of the resources we do, in terms of technical assistance, small business training, training and lending, are focused on these population groups.

The chamber also houses other initiatives and programs, including the Central Indiana Women’s Business Center and the Spanish Business Council.

As small businesses look to the future, MacInnis says access to resources and support is vital.

“They will continue to need financial help,” she said. “The Business Ownership Initiative, BOI, is a designated community development financial institution or CDFI.”

“This designation allows us to be a little more flexible than perhaps traditional financial institutions. This allows us to be more flexible in our taking on, our taking on requirements, and so on. This capital injection is usually a critical part of keeping these businesses open, “McKinnis added.

If you are a small business owner who needs help, MacInnis says the chamber is here with open arms to see if BOI or other services are right for you.

As a customer, how can you help small businesses in your community? MacInnis recommends that you always consider shopping where and how you can.

“Whether it’s catering, or a venue, or something like that. If you care for the lawn, you need landscaping. If you have the opportunity to buy consultants and so on, do your part to think broadly not only about your home environment and how you can use your local entrepreneurs there, but also about your business environment, ”she suggested.

A background that tries to remain optimistic while difficulties continue calls on customers to understand whether services are more expensive or certain requests are more difficult to implement.

“We feel the warmth with them. We do not raise our prices to be greedy. “We are raising our prices to make sure we can stay in business so we can serve them,” Von said.

“I may not be able to guarantee color schemes or certain items, but I will still be able to accommodate my clients,” she added. “As long as I’m transparent with them, they need to be able to understand that there are some things that are just out of our control.

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