For the most recently taped episode of my TV show, Reference Point, I interviewed the CEOs of three non-profit organizations that focus on helping to establish and fund micro-businesses. A micro-business is considered a business with five or fewer employees.
According to the Association for Enterprise Opportunity (AEO) there are 25.5 million micro-businesses in the United States. Of these, 21.3 million are owner/operators with no employees.
We’ve been told by government officials, the press, and other sources that “small business” is the fundamental engine of the economy. If this is true (which I firmly believe it is), then supporting small business in the local community is the surest way that every American can contribute to the rapid turnaround of the economy.
AEO has an initiative called "One in Three." The idea is that if one third of the 25.5 million micro businesses in America hired one employee, we would put 8.5 million people back to work. The Nov. 4, 2011 report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics stated there are 13.9 million unemployed in the United States. Can you see the impact the One in Three initiative can have?
These micro businesses are in all industries: from farming to manufacturing; from IT services to restaurants; medical services to construction; hair styling to specialty retailers; travel agents to printers.
The three CEOs on my show, Claudia Viek of CAMEO; Sharon Miller of Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center; and Emily Gasner of Working Solutions–and organizations like theirs throughout the country–are having incredible success with the businesses they serve. The numbers are staggering: While many studies report that somewhere between 50 percent and 70 percent of start up businesses fail within the first five years, clients of organizations like these have an 80 percent success rate over the same period.
Why am writing about this? What’s my point? Simply this:
- If you own a micro-business, or are considering starting one, hook up with an organization like the ones mentioned here. It could make a huge difference in your success rate. (If you are in the San Francisco Bay Area, check the links above for details. If you live elsewhere in California, the CAMEO site will identify providers near you. If you are outside California, the AEO site will provide a list of organizations in your state.)
- Whether you own a business or work for someone else, SUPPORT LOCAL BUSINESSES. Make a conscious and deliberate effort to buy products and services from businesses in your community. Online shopping may be easy and Big Box stores may be slightly less expensive, but the benefits to you, your community and the economy as a whole are much higher if you support small business. It impacts employment, tax revenues, blight, crime and other intangibles in a much more highly leveraged manner.
- Tell your State Representatives and your Governor you would like to see more programs that support local business. While many states are offering huge tax incentives to large companies to establish a presence in their state, the impact takes time and can be limited. It can take years to build a facility and transfer operations. Programs to support small business will have an immediate impact on employment as well as local, county and state tax revenues. (Remember the One in Three initiative.)
Please think about these things as you plan for 2012. Realize that, collectively, we have the power to make an enormous positive impact on the economy.
The two episodes of Reference Point that cover this information will begin airing on Friday, Dec. 9 at 8:30 p.m. on with the second segment on Friday, Dec. 16.
Wishing you a wonderful and blessed Holiday Season and truly prosperous and positive New Year.