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You Are Not Alone

February 26, 2013 - Ernest Hohmeyer
Living in small communities we may think that our voices do not matter.

If you are a self-employed entrepreneur with no employees you may really think that no one cares about you.

New Jobs vs. Existing

We hear about the excitement of bringing new jobs in town. Those that are self-employed may think “what about us?” We may conclude no one cares because:

1. We are already here and are not a “new business” 2. We do not employ anyone

It can be a lonely place sometimes especially as your day is filled with the so many hats you have to wear. Even if you are lucky enough to have a few employees, you cannot participate in your community like you would like to because well, if you do, who minds the store?

Some might consider you aloof and not caring. You hear the mumble-jumble about issues and may be too afraid to speak up – afraid that a “non-polished voice” may not be welcomed.

Who am I anyways you may be thinking.

But hang on you might be a big part of a big “we.”

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) publishes a ton of great information. In their “FAQS: Recently Asked Questions” published by the Advocacy Small Business Statistics & Research, are some interesting “facts”:

Related to the question “How important are small businesses to the U.S. economy?” small businesses: • Represent 99.7 percent of all employer firms. • Employ half of all private sector employees. • Pay 44 percent of total U.S. private payroll. • Generated 65 percent of net new jobs over the past 17 years. • Hire 43 percent of high tech workers (scientists, engineers, computer programmers, and others). • 52 percent are home-based

Small = Big

Granted small business is defined by the SBA as under 500 employees which would be monolithic to us. Consider however, “About half of small firm employment is in second-stage companies (10-99 employees).”

But get this, according to this report micro businesses were a big part of the small business pie “21.4 million without employees” [2008].

Overall, small businesses “accounted for 65 percent (or 9.8 million) of the 15 million net new jobs created between 1993 and 2009,” states the SBA in this report.

Not All Roses

The picture is not all rosy which is why our micro businesses and the self-employed cannot be forgotten.

Again, according to the SBA’s “FAQS” there are less small businesses “opening” and more closing. In 2005 “births” numbered 644,122, “closures” 565,745 and bankruptcies 39,201. In comparison in 2009, the last year on this report, births were down to 552,600, closures were up (660,900) and bankruptcies nearly doubled to 60,837.

It is no secret that being in business has been a tough sled. We cannot forget our existing small businesses and we should not think that those that do not employ anyone are not important. Small businesses need to know that they do matter and they are not alone.

It can be very daunting with the economy being only one factor. Regulations which seem to increase every year, taxes and believe it or not finding employees can be major obstacles.

Did I mention yet the seasonal economy (ah, the ides of the mud season are coming), and oh yes understanding today’s marketing?

Sometimes we run in circles so much we don’t know if we are the head or the tail. Sounds like our communities that are also doing more with less.

We need more of an economic base; we can only cut back so much. There may be an opportunity that is right in our neighborhood: our existing small businesses.

Resources

I often pontificate in these weekly chats about how change is constant and to take nothing for granted. You need to constantly evaluate where you are and what may be the trends.

This is true if you are an entrepreneur, a non-profit or a municipality.

Many are probably wondering “Yea, that’s great but where do I start? I have other things I have to do you know like run my business.” Unfortunately, part of running any enterprise today is to plan for an uncertain tomorrow – or at least a changing one.

The good news is that there is a whole slew of resources: • Local chambers • County economic offices • Banks • Empire State Development • Adirondack Economic Development Corp • Cornell Cooperative Extension • And a host of others - sometimes a great strategy is to Google a specific question

The SBA has more to offer than you may realize. It is far more than just a lending agency. It has an advocacy office, offers small business statistics and immense technical assistance resources.

If you are trying to take that first step and further develop that idea that has been running around in your head for a while, the SBA has wonderful information to get you started.

Taking The First Step

But I am not even talking about that dreaded business plan exercise – just taking that first step and seeing if there is enough of a customer base for your idea. Ideas mean nothing if there are not enough buyers.

Your own customers are your best source of information. However, if you are pondering a new idea to gain new customers the SBA has an excellent pool of information. Online at sba.gov/content/general-business-statistics under “General Business Statistics” include: • Consumer statistics • Demographics • Economic indicators • Statistics for specific industries

Often these are broken down by state and of course the Bureau of Census is also an important resource.

This information may help you to get started. It will at least show how the information is organized so that you may get an idea on the right questions to ask.

Reaching Out?

On a local front, perhaps there should be a resource area for small businesses organized with economic profiles, marketing data and a chat room for existing small businesses.

Is there more we can do to take full advantage of an opportunity for economic growth that is standing right in front of us?

 
 

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