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YouTube helped launch my small business, so why are Minnesota lawmakers attacking Big Tech?

It’s true Facebook and YouTube are really big and hard to compete against, but these giants deliver promotions, products, and positive reviews to millions of potential customers of small businesses nationwide.

Facebook, TikTok, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram apps are seen on a smartphone
REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

When I was pregnant with my third child, I knew I wanted to spend more time at home and have more flexibility than would be possible working full-time in healthcare. I’d always been artsy-crafty and thought perhaps I could turn my passion into a nice little business, so I made the jump, hoped for the best – and it worked! But now I’m concerned because our Minnesota Legislature is considering new laws that could break the digital small business economy that has helped me succeed.

I started out selling personalized home décor items on Etsy. It was great to work from our house in Chisago City, but all my customers seemed to be local or friends of friends, even though through Etsy I could theoretically reach millions of people.

Then, unbeknownst to me, a YouTube influencer in Oklahoma who bought one of my creations featured it in an online video. All of a sudden orders skyrocketed. I was busier than ever even though I promised myself this would be a part-time family-friendly gig. I had no idea why suddenly my orders jumped 10x until a few weeks later someone sent me the YouTube video. That was my first lesson about the awesome small business power of social media and what it means to “go viral.”

Today, 85% of my customers live outside of Minnesota. But don’t worry, I still love making Minnesota fridge magnets and other home-state items, and I still create every item by myself and do all my own marketing.

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My success online is a great example of how small businesses benefit from online platforms like Etsy, Facebook, and Google (which owns YouTube). It was great when one online video super-charged my little business, but it is customers posting favorable product reviews for several years that has created the extraordinary trust that continues to sustain the business. I’m not a digital marketing expert, but I sure notice the jump in sales every time a customer posts another positive review, and I have more than 1,000 five-star reviews.

I’m really proud of my success, but it would never have happened without the extraordinary (and often free!) marketing services from online platforms. I use free services on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, and I also run Google Ads through Etsy’s platform to make sure my store and products are seen by lots of people at the very moment they are looking for the kinds of gifts I make. It’s extraordinary how these giant companies support millions of small businesses like mine – so I don’t understand why so many legislators think big digital companies are bad for America and Minnesota.

In Congress and St. Paul, legislators and Attorney General Keith Ellison are considering punishing digital giants as if they are ogres, instead of praising them for helping my business succeed and helping me spend more time at home with my kids. I understand that Facebook and YouTube are really big and are hard to compete against, but these giants deliver my promotions, products, and positive reviews to millions of potential customers nationwide.

Nicole Pinski
Nicole Pinski

Supporting and serving American small businesses has proven to be a great business for digital platforms. Google and Facebook algorithms are powerful forces for good when they help small businesses, and YouTube is my business breakout hero.

I’m just a mom with a very small business, but I know firsthand that to compete in Minnesota and nationally small businesses need to reach customers, and that means they need powerful and affordable digital tools. Legislators in St. Paul and Washington should be promoting instead of attacking digital platforms and should make absolutely sure that digital tools and technology remain accessible and affordable to small businesses in our state. That’s how lawmakers can help our economy and our families.

Nicole Pinski of Chisago City, Minnesota, is the owner of NicKnackDesignsCo, online at