Tag Archive for 'SBA'

An official day for small business owners

Labor Day began as an idea in the mind of a 19th century labor leader — some say Matthew Maguire, others say Peter McGuire — who cared greatly for a very important segment of the marketplace, its workers.

Regardless of paternity, such a day was first celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City, when members of the CLU took an unpaid day off to demonstrate solidarity and, of course, have picnics. And ever since 1884, when President Grover Cleveland’s signature designated the first Monday in September as Labor Day, it’s been an official federal holiday.

In 1898, Samuel Gompers, then head of the American Federation of Labor, called Labor Day, “the day for which the toilers in past centuries looked forward, when their rights and their wrongs would be discussed … that the workers of our day may not only lay down their tools of labor for a holiday, but upon which they may touch shoulders in marching phalanx and feel the stronger for it.”

Alas, entrepreneurs aren’t organized like our union brethren — probably because we’re too busy making payroll. There is no single Small Business Day officially decreed by the U.S. Government. No Entrepreneur’s Day set aside to honor the few who do so much for so many; a day to picnic and party down in honor of the real heroes of the marketplace, small business owners.

There actually is a small business week when the U.S. Small Business Administration recognizes the “creme de la creme” of entrepreneurs in America. But it’s not an official “Day” and it’s not always the same week each year.

Small businesses represent over 98% of all U.S. businesses and produce over half of the U.S. $17 trillion GDP.  Plus, we sign the FRONT of the paychecks of over half (70 million) of all U.S. workers.

Let’s see: Big deal on Labor Day — no Small Business Day. What’s wrong with this picture?

So, what’s the answer? Let’s celebrate Small Business Day in a way no other national holiday has been established: on a Sunday — actually, the second Sunday in August.

Sunday is preferred because that would create the least payroll expense. August is the month-of-choice because that’s when politicians are home on recess. This way they can practice casting their pearls before we small business owners in preparation for eating barbeque and sucking up to unions on Labor Day.

To paraphrase Samuel Gompers, small business owners deserve a day for which these signers-of-the-front-of-paychecks can look forward to when their rights and wrongs would be discussed; that the small employers of our day may not only lay down their challenges for a holiday, but during which they may touch shoulders in marching phalanx and feel the stronger for it.

Write this on a rock … Entrepreneurs unite!  It’s time we had a day to honor small business owners.

Celebrating my 12th consecutive Small Business Week in D.C.

Here I am, in Washington, D.C., at my 12th consecutive celebration of National Small Business Week. Since 1998, I’ve been supporting the U.S. Small Business Administration as America honors its small businesses. Each year, like this one, the recognition includes over 50 small business champions from across the country.

Karen Mills, the new SBA Administrator, is my fourth one to work with, going back to Aida Alvarez, with the Clinton administration; and as I write, Ms. Mills is delivering her keynote speech at the SBW celebration. Among her first comments was to announce the American Recovery Capital (ARC) program that is a new loan program for viable businesses that need some short-term capital assistance during this recession.

ARC is designed to guarantee 100% of a loan made by a local lender, like a bank or credit union, to a qualified small business. The loan amount is up to $35,000, there are no fees, no interest or payments for 12 months and up to 60 months to repay, plus a few other details.

I think this is a great program - and much needed - but my concern is one that I’ve had for a long time: Not enough small business owners know about the SBA, what it does, how to access SBA resources, or how to coordinate the small business’ requirements, its bank and the SBA. Alas, the greatest program in the world won’t succeed if it isn’t widely distributed. One of the challenges Administrator Mills faces is getting the SBA airing in prime time on Main Street.

The Administrator also talked about health care reform. As you may know, I do not support more government involvement in the health care industry. We need more market-based solutions and less government. I look forward to an honest debate on this issue with Administrator Mills over the next few months on the radio.

Speaking of which, earlier today I talked about Small Business Week on my small business radio program, The Small Business Advocate Show. Take a few minutes to listen to my thoughts and, of course, leave your own comments.

Small business capital acquisition even when the credit market stinks

This isn’t my first rodeo. The current recession is my 7th one to work in since 1969. As I have noted several times in the past few months, the single greatest difference between this downturn and others is the collapse of the credit sector resulting in a steep reduction of credit availability to consumers and businesses. In every other economic crisis since the Great Depression, when consumers and businesses wanted to make a purchase requiring some level of credit, there has always been a healthy and motivated credit industry standing by to help put purchaser and seller together. Not this time.

And this challenge is no respecter of size: Pharmaceutical players no less than Pfizer and Wyeth had to cobble together transactions from five banks in order to finalize their merger.

Thankfully there are some bright spots for established small businesses. Independent community banks are still lending to small businesses that have, or want, a relationship with those institutions. Credit unions are still hanging in there and expanding their influence with businesses. But for the most part, consumer credit firms and the big banks are MIA.

Notice my qualification word “established” in the previous paragraph. In my 2009 predictions, I said that, unlike previous recessions, the current credit dearth will not be kind to small business start-ups, which historically have relied heavily on the founders’ personal credit lines, including home equity, to capitalize their new small business baby. Consequently – and sadly – start-ups will not play as large a part in this economic recovery as they have in others.

Also in my 2009 predictions, I said that the Obama administration would deploy part of its stimulus efforts through the Small Business Administration. The president should expand the influence of this well established channel to help small businesses acquire the capital they need through their local banks, and I think this will come to pass.

Recently on my small business radio program, The Small Business Advocate Show, iBank founder and Brain Trust member, Tom Markel, (www.iBank.com)talked about the state of the credit landscape, plus his own proposal for what he thinks President Obama should do for small businesses in his first 100 days in office. Be sure to listen to the wisdom of this important voice on small business capital acquisition, including his multi-step small business stimulus proposal for President Obama. And don’t forget to leave a comment.




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