If you want to take the measure of business in the United States, just glance at those stores on the strip mall that you pass every day on your way to work. It’s your bagel place, a laundry operation, maybe a strictly takeout restaurant. Many are microbusinesses. And if you want to take the measure of business in the United States that you don’t see, imagine all the small companies run from home, self-employed consultants, for example, on every subject under the sun.
While large corporations garner the headlines for job creation or job losses, the backbone of our economy rests squarely on the shoulders of small businesses.
The majority of businesses in this country are microbusinesses, making it critical that we invest in this sector in order to boost our lagging economy. We have to ensure that individuals interested in opening a microbusiness, or who already own one, have the proper tools and support to succeed. Not only will this spur job creation, but it also will empower individuals to invest in their communities, which can spark revitalization in neighborhoods that have languished for too long.
Microbusinesses, which generally have five or fewer employees, hold a unique spot in our business landscape.
Very small businesses, or microenterprises, represent more than 80 percent of all businesses in the country and are a key job creation strategy in communities with weak job prospects, according to a report from the Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED). The impact of microbusinesses on our economy is stunning. “The value of American microbusinesses accounts for nearly one-fifth of all household wealth in the country, making it the largest source of wealth next to homeownership,” according to the CFED, an organization focused on expanding economic opportunity.
Here is the reality. Statistics constantly demonstrate that micro and small businesses are incredible drivers of economic activity, wealth, and opportunity in the United States.
We should do everything possible to help those who choose to become employers, because it helps all of us. We need to create conditions that foster a sense of entrepreneurship. If they succeed and just add one or two more employees, the community succeeds.
Offering encouragement and incentives isn’t something new for government bodies. Consider how frequently communities and states are ready to give tax breaks to large companies in the hopes of attracting and maintaining local employment. When done fairly (the local community benefits), it makes sense, thereby raising the question, why should we do less for our microbusinesses?
Along with my colleagues, I introduced a proposal, A-3333, which would offer assistance to those interested in starting a microbusiness. Governor Christie signed this measure into law in early February.
The new law provides for:
counseling requirements to be offered at One Stop Career Centers.
evaluation of an individual’s ability to engage in self-employment training, information about self-employment training opportunities and information about the success of past participants who received this training.
requirement that would-be microbusiness owners receive counseling from qualified business counselors, not job counselors.
eligibility to project applications under the Neighborhood Revitalization Tax Credit Program to give emphasis to those projects that involve the development or expansion of a microenterprise benefit low and moderate income neighborhoods, and improve the quality of life for neighborhood residents.
The added plus for encouraging microbusiness is that it attracts many who are oftentimes overlooked as burgeoning entrepreneurs. At least half of these micro-entrepreneurs consist of women, minorities, low-income individuals and people with disabilities, according to the Aspen Institute.
Whatever obstacles they might share, all these budding entrepreneurs have a common attitude. They have initiative. Almost all are willing to take a risk and work hard to succeed. A friend of mine recently wrote a column that suggests intelligence is overrated, and the other I word — initiative — is the ingredient that makes a difference for employers. It certainly seems to be a fair description of every entrepreneur I know who opened a microbusiness.
If I haven’t made a case for why all of us should support microbusiness with the tools to help them succeed, including our personal patronage, then here’s a statistic that you shouldn’t ignore.
If just one of every three microbusinesses hired one additional employee, the United States would reach full employment, according to the Association for Enterprise Opportunity. Now that’s a statistic we can all live with. That’s my take, what’s yours?