Alex Cabrero, Deseret News
Eagles Landing Flying J in Scipio.

There are a lot of exhilarating things to do in life. One of the most exhilarating (and excruciating) is to start a small business.

It’s not easy. It’s almost always twice as hard and twice as expensive as expected. Only the most persistent and tenacious survive. Some 30 percent of small businesses fail before their second anniversary, and 50 percent don’t make it past five years, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration, or SBA.

But those that do make it form the backbone of the Utah and U.S. economies, providing innovative products and services, millions of jobs and trillions of dollars in overall economic impact. They are the geese that lay the golden eggs for Utah’s economy.

That’s why it’s worth celebrating small businesses and those intrepid entrepreneurs who have a dream and move heaven and earth to make it come true.

The week of May 5 is designated by presidential proclamation as Small Business Week. It’s a chance to reflect on the contribution that small businesses make to our economy and to all of society.

More than 99 percent of all businesses in the United States are defined as small businesses. More than half of Americans either own or work for a small business, and these businesses create two out of every three new jobs in the U.S. each year.

“Small business drives the American economy," said Dr. Chad Moutray, chief economist for the SBA’s Office of Advocacy. "Main Street provides the jobs and spurs our economic growth. American entrepreneurs are creative and productive, and the numbers prove it."

During small business week, the SBA will sponsor numerous events and will highlight and honor outstanding small business owners from all 50 states.

Later in May, Crystal Call Maggelet, the CEO and president of FJ Management, Inc., will be honored as Utah’s Business Person of Year by Gov. Gary Herbert at the May 17 annual Utah Economic Summit.

It is a well-deserved honor. Crystal typifies the spirit of entrepreneurism and courage as she leads a great Utah business. While FJ Management is no longer a small business, the portfolio of companies that Maggelet has been involved with as startups, acquisitions or mergers all started small, as someone’s dream. These companies include Maverik, Flying J, Pilot Travel Centers, Crystal Inn hotels and others.

And the journey has not been easy. Following the death of her father, Jay Call, in a tragic plane crash, Crystal and her team led the company through an unfortunate set of business circumstances and a difficult Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2008. She reorganized the company, accepted the position of president and CEO and emerged stronger than ever, making 100 percent repayment to all creditors in 2010. Today, Flying J Management is a thriving, diversified family business, focused on increasing growth and building value to last.

It’s not just Utah that has celebrated Crystal’s achievements. In 2018, she received Ernst & Young’s prestigious Entrepreneur of the Year Lifetime Achievement Award for the Utah region. Then in 2018 she also was named national Entrepreneur of the Year in the E&Y Family Business category.

There are some important resources available to small businesses that want to become as successful as Maverik and Flying J. One of these is the Small Business Administration, which provides many resources for small businesses, including its SBA 7(a) loan program.

11 comments on this story

The SBA website is rich with resources to help aspiring entrepreneurs plan, launch, manage and grow a small business. In the last 10 years, the SBA and its partners have supported more than $3.5 billion in loans in Utah. In FY2018 alone, more than 900 small businesses received loans totaling $428 million.

Small businesses are, indeed, the geese that lay the golden eggs for jobs and for Utah’s economy. I encourage policymakers to avoid hurting the geese; instead, help them by maintaining sensible regulations, fair taxes, free trade and an overall healthy business climate.