Is Small Business Getting Discouraged?

Small businesses – defined by the Small Business Administration as those with 500 or fewerbigstockphoto_Employee_1344082 employees – have long proven to be heroes in our struggling economy. They account for almost two-thirds of all net new job creation according to an article published in the McKinsey Quarterly in November 2012 by John Horn and Darren Pleasance.

But, there are signs that these entrepreneurial entities are growing discouraged by the country’s weak economic recovery, and not generating nearly as high a percentage of jobs as they did back in 2007. To top it all, younger entrepreneurs are showing up in much fewer numbers, which doesn’t bode well for the next generation of serial entrepreneurs and risk-taking, startup venture leaders.

The good news is that although the majority may be struggling, a minority of small businesses are characterized by very high growth – some even doubling their revenues and employment every four years. They exist in every industry sector and across a broad geographic spectrum. Up until now it’s been almost impossible to predict which small businesses will end up as high growth entities, and which will fail – as a large number routinely do. There is several things that can help improve the mood and morale of small businesses:

  • Increase awareness of how larger companies in the private sector can support and nurture smaller businesses – many already do, it’s not just that well known.
  • Use effective tools that predict business growth and improve performance, such as the Growth Curve Strategy model with it’s Growth X-Ray Process. If properly understood, and implemented at an early stage, this model can indeed predict which small businesses are most likely to succeed.
  • Spread the word about mentoring – sharing the skills, expertise and knowledge that older entrepreneurs have gained with those starting out.
  • Encourage the inclusion of small high-growth businesses in traditional supply chain activities.
  • Re-orient venture capital to the earlier stage businesses that are finding it harder to access avenues of capital.

If we really put our minds to it – and why wouldn’t we want to find ways to strengthen our economy – there are so many ways to help.


Authenticity and Soul Firemen

Au-then-tic-i-ty (as found in The American Heritage College Dictionary): the quality or condition of being authentic, trustworthy, or genuine – is a rather dry and concise explanation for the liveliest, most dynamic, freshest, most creative, and amazing (and sometimes confusing!) aspect of each human being. However, it’s also very accurate in that when we are at our most authentic and genuine, we are also at our most trustworthy.

Have you ever taken time to think about how authentic you are, how true you are to yourself? Although I’m in no way implying that you’re a fake, how well do any of us really know ourselves? How well do we know our talents, our strengths, our needs or potential? How many of us live our lives as something we’d rather not be or do? The phlebotomist who would rather teach philosophy; the CEO who yearns to preach from the pulpit; the analyst who would rather be a triathlete? There’s absolutely nothing fake, per se, about any of those things, but they’re not totally genuine either.

There are so many reasons we end up doing something for years that is not what we really want to do. Messages drummed into us as young adults to follow in the family tradition and be a doctor, lawyer, candlestick-maker, etc. Emulating somebody we much admire; falling into a career because the opportunity was there; simply choosing to do something because nothing stronger jumps out; the list goes on and on.

How about taking some time to peer inside and see what might ignite the fire in your soul? Ask yourself some tantalizing questions and answer from your gut if you can – be ruthlessly honest, nobody will hear you or laugh at you. What would you rather be doing if you didn’t have to pay the bills? What gets you burning with excitement? What did you love to do as a kid? What do others compliment you about most often? These are just some questions to get the juices flowing.

What so often happens when we answer these question out loud, or perhaps when we have answered them out loud in the past, we’ve heard dampening messages in return: oh that won’t work, you don’t have a degree; you’ll never earn enough doing that; live in Asia, are you nuts? you can’t even get a visa! – you know the score. Here is where soul firemen come into the picture. Firemen, bless every one of them, are great to have around when either your house or your car is on fire. When your soul is on fire? Not so much. Avoid the soul firemen, don’t let them douse your soul’s raging inferno. Get those matches busy – ignite the fires within!

Have fun!