Date of Conferral



Doctor of Business Administration (D.B.A.)


Business Administration


Gregory P. Banks


Small businesses accounted for 99% of the firms in private industry, provided 38% of the goods and services sold in the United States, and hired 55% of the labor force each year between 2012 and 2015. From 1993 to 2013, small firms accounted for 63% of new work generated while more than 50% of U.S. small businesses failed inside of 5 years and at least 20% failed during the first year. The purpose of this multiunit case study was to explore the strategies small retail businesses used to achieve sustainability beyond 5 years in a purposefully selected county in Virginia. The conceptual framework combination of entrepreneurship theory and spillover knowledge theory served to focus this case study on the exploration of economic strategies owners used to succeed in business. Purposeful sampling was used to identify 4 small retail business owners who had achieved sustainability beyond 5 years. Methodological triangulation combined company financial records, synthesized transcribed interview data and reflective notes. The Van Manen method was used to perform data analysis using responses from face-to-face open-ended questions. Participants concurred with the transcribed summaries via member checking. Manual coding resulted in six themes related to small retail business sustainability including motivation, management practices, application of active leadership principles, sustaining positive energy, owner dedication and passion, and identifying and understanding employee values. Social change may be affected by the contributions to small firm strategies about profitability, sustainability, and success, and could influence enterprise and employee prosperity, improve family economic health, and strengthen local community markets.