Small Business Successes Will Speed Recovery

Small biz and circulatory systemPresident Obama focused part of his State of the Union address on the need to help small businesses survive and thrive in our current economy.  I applaud – and agree with him that the lifeblood of America flows through micro and small business veins.

It’s going to take more than political pronouncements, however, to produce the kind of revenue and profits that will change the rules of the current economic game. It’s going to take some practical business programs — developed, implemented and overseen by those who understand the stresses of meeting a payroll — not by some isolated academics or the political elite with ivory tower views. The major arteries of governmental involvement are needed, but with fewer constrictions.  Until our economic blood flows freely to the small capillaries of small business, the body of the national economy will continue to wither.

Let’s be certain in 2011 that the circulatory system of economic turn-around becomes healthy:  eliminate the stress of uncertainty – which constricts: provide a regular “heart-beat” of money at good rates and terms which “oxygenates” the economic blood.

Getting healthy will demand small business advocates with “hearts” that have been strengthened in the crucible that mixes (1) the stresses of making a payroll (2) with finding and keeping customers (3) while  blending in relief born of opportunities that generate enough revenue to continue to fund the business.

Local, state and national program leadership must come from those who have proven experience — that is, they have developed simple, practical business plans that leveraged resources, managed cash, and returned a profit. Such leaders recognize that resources (like small business loans) must come from all facets of the community and the government can help facilitate that process without being the process.

The demands on the small business person are enormous. Business issues — start-up costs, capital expense, and management of cash — all must be pointed to providing something special for a target group of customers. Whether I’m writing, consulting with business people, speaking, teaching university students, or volunteering at SCORE, I know that this understanding of customers is a game changer.

But it’s not just about customers and cash. There are hidden financial costs that must be tracked:  so also must the costs to relationships. Small business consumes money, time and people. And it has a big appetite. Sometimes, the small business “family” gets devoured by the demands and stresses particular to a small business. The uncertainty of complying with health-care laws continues to provide stress that reaches “inside” the business – it reaches the families involved. Governmental program leaders must comprehend these stresses.

Government has a role:  facilitating access to capital at reasonable rates, encourage entrepreneurship , prevent tax and license burdens from being onerous, and provide clear, consistent regulatory messages that will help small businesses mitigate their risk.

But more is needed: they must provide program overhaul and streamlined processes that have been honed by the  principle – less is more.  Then we all benefit: More jobs. More tax revenue. More services that can meet growing demands. If the President Obama and other governmental leaders provide this, we all will applaud and thank them.

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