Last week was National Small Business Week (NSBW); a celebration of the nation’s economic backbone according to the Small Business Administration (SBA). Did you feel extra festive last week as a small business owner?
Before I get into my points, it might be helpful to know how the SBA and your current administration define a small business. Wisely, the definition varies based upon the industry – either by revenues or number of employees. For example, if you are a wholesaler in the B2B Electronics Market, you must have less than 100 employees (easily met as a solopreneur) whereas if you are a florist, your annual revenues cannot exceed $7M.
For full disclosure, I must admit that I didn’t attend the ceremonies in DC, so I reviewed the NSBW website and the SBA site plus did some searches on Google. On the NSBW site, there is a video of Karen Mills, newly appointed head of the SBA, addressing the attendees.
According to Mills, the top 3 priorities for the SBA are:
- To “implement the Recovery Act and get that money out into the hands of small businesses”
- To “invest in and revitalize the agency itself” meaning the SBA
- To “make the SBA the strongest voice for small businesses in the United States”
Following are some excerpts from her speech:
“… you’ve built stronger, healthier communities …”
“… how important the small business roll is in our nation’s economy …”
“… small businesses create … 70% of all new jobs in America …”
“… more than half of all Americans own or work for small businesses …”
“… develop the most innovative patents and ideas in the most cutting edge industries which will keep us competitive into the future …”
“… of the $730M in Recovery Act funds allocated to the SBA …”
So Ms. Mills, if you are to become the strongest voice for small business, I have a few questions.
- How many small businesses knew about National Small Business Week?
- Why was there almost no TV press regarding the event?
- Why was the week’s schedule dominated by representatives from large corporations (e.g. IBM, HP, Visa, Symantec) giving speeches instead of giving the small business owners an opportunity to discuss their interaction with the SBA and benefits that they received from the Recovery Act?
- If small businesses represent all the good things for our communities and economy as mentioned in your speech, why are billions of dollars quickly dispersed to failing mega-corporation when only millions are allocated for small businesses – and mainly in lowering fees and reducing taxes?
- Could you please ask President Obama why Chrysler won’t need to repay nearly $7B in bailout loans as it goes through bankruptcy (as reported by CNN Money) while the SBA will only receive $730M to service America’s economic backbone?
- Where is the true celebration of the small business with recognition and visibility in the regional, national and international markets?
- Where are the tax breaks to incentivize the operation of a small business instead of only in the start up fees?
- When will the SBA eliminate awarding government contracts to larger corporations instead of small businesses?
- What is the SBA doing to proactively educate entrepreneurs and the small business market about its educational services?
- Why didn’t President Obama attend?
Now not all was bad – or at least it appears that the SBA is trying with the implementation of America’s Recovery Capital (ARC) with details to be released to lenders next month. According to Mills, ARC will provide a bridge loan of up to $35K to once successful businesses to help them get back to better times.
However, for National Small Business Week 2010, I hope Ms. Mills and her department truly celebrate America’s small businesses by elevating them beyond dining at the kiddie table and giving them balloons.
All The Best,
The Solopreneur’s Guide