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5/20/2009
10:04 AM
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Small Business Too Big For One Week A Year

Containing small business to a single week is ridiculous. SMBs are the economic engine that will lead us out of this recession whether we celebrate them during National Small Business week or not.

Containing small business to a single week is ridiculous. SMBs are the economic engine that will lead us out of this recession whether we celebrate them during National Small Business week or not."When is kids day?"

Most parents confront this question around Mother's Day or Father's Day. The stock response, of course, is, "Everyday is kid's day."

It's unlikely any entrepreneur has asked, "When is National Small Business Week?" As it happens, this week is National Small Business Week. But here's the reality: "Every week is small business week."

That doesn't mean small businesses people should be treated like children, nor do they rate as a minority or special needs group ripe for accommodation or special recognition. Small businesses are everywhere and setting a week aside for them is absurd. Small businesses are as ubiquitous as oxygen -- they cannot be contained or confined by a single week.

According to the SBA's Office of Advocacy, there are 27.2 million businesses in the United States. Companies with 500 or fewer employees -- the SBA definition of a small business -- represent 99.9 percent of those 27.2 million.

Most businesses are small businesses.

Given that concerns about the economy rank high right now, volume alone doesn't tell the story. It's worth considering the role small businesses play in the overall economy. No surprise it's significant. Approximately half of all private-sector employees work in small businesses and those businesses pay nearly 45 percent of the total U.S. payroll. Moreover, over the past decade small businesses have generated between 60 and 80 percent of the new jobs created each year. Small businesses generate more than 50% of non-farm private GDP, hire 40% of high tech workers, and produce patents at 13 times the rate per employee of large firms. Without small business, not only do we not see an economic recovery, but we're flirting with third-world status.

Small business stocks don't trade on the exchanges, the media doesn't cover sales results, they don't host glitzy launch events, and when they cut loose employees or close franchises it's not cited as economic indicator. But small businesses are hardly invisible. They're right in front of you. Small businesses are the businesses we all interact with every day: the neighborhood retailer or restaurant, the consulting or marketing agency, the contractor or service provider -- these are the people you bring into your business or home and come to rely upon and trust. Can you say the same of any Fortune 500 company?

This whole thing is backward. If there's a group that needs a week for recognition, it's big enterprises -- let's take five days to fete what the Fortune 500 has done for use lately. Now that would be a blow out! Keep running with this far enough and very soon you arrive at the travesty of a mockery of a sham reminiscent of Larry Wilmore's satirical Daily Show jeremiad against Black History Month (note: may contain language offensive to some viewers).

The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10c
Black History Month
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Of course, the National Small Business Week events have value. Karen Mills, the newly confirmed SBA administrator, delivered the keynote address at the multiday event in Washington, D.C. An impressive roster of experts addressed the relevant small business issues of the day such as how the recession is affecting business, when credit will start flowing again, and how technology can give businesses an edge.

Discussions in this vein are important. They're worthwhile. Business owners rarely have the luxury of stepping back from the day-to-day operations of their company to consider the big picture. Events like the one in D.C. promote that reflection as well as provide a forum for business owners to cement and make new connections with peers and partners and prospects.

But look over the roster of speakers. Most of them are not from small businesses. Instead, they represent big businesses (with some notable exceptions). Probably because small business owners don't have the time or the travel budget to set aside a week of the year for such an event. They're working.

Every week is small business week and you don't need to travel to DC to celebrate SMBs or put a circle on your calendar. Just get to work -- that's what small businesses do 52 weeks of the year.


See more bMighty coverage of National Small Business Week

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