If your answer is yes, you’d be in very good company. The U. S. Small Business Administration’s definition of a small business is any business with fewer than 500 employees. Using that definition, according to the U.S. Census, by the end of 2013 there were approximately 28 million small businesses, including the almost 23 million self-employed individuals. Together, these small businesses have accounted for 65% of new jobs created since 1995.
Since this week is National Small Business Week, today I thought I’d look at some of the statistics, innovations, and implications of our collective entrepreneurial mindset.
It would be a bit of an over-simplification to state that almost all businesses were, at one point, small businesses, but true. Both Microsoft and Dell started in humble beginnings by curious, overachieving young men who were committed to their passion.
Growing big is something we may feel compelled to do.
It’s the staying small that intrigues me.
Is there something inherently more innovative at smaller companies? NASA seems to think so. NASA’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program, designed for technology companies that want to participate in government-sponsored research and development efforts is now in its second phase. Their belief that big ideas can come from small businesses has led the space agency to select 108 proposals from 99 small US firms that might support future missions and hold promise for commercialization. Altogether, NASA estimates that these 108 proposals may be worth close to $87 million dollars.
The SBA has its own program aimed at funding for new small business and their ideas: they’ve just launched a $2.5 million competition for accelerators and other entrepreneurial ecosystem models. Each monetary prize is $50,000 and will be used to fund operating budgets.
And while not all small businesses prove themselves economically viable, one-half of the small businesses started each year will survive at least five years, with one-quarter making it to the 15 year mark. Of course, ask Sears or Circuit City and they’ll tell you that longevity in business gives no guarantees when it comes to innovating their way out of an economic black hole.
So, while many struggle to grow and maintain large businesses, the true economic backbone of the country is the small business. Never “too big to fail”, they nonetheless have their own unique issues that can make starting and running their small business hazardous.
What they share, regardless of their business model or field of commerce, is their intense drive, vision and passion.
As the National Small Business Week should remind us, we could do worse than emulate those traits.
As our small part of the national celebration, Boxer Advisors is hosting a free webinar on Thursday, May 15 at 11AM EDT. It’s all about outstanding business practices that can be used whether you’re in a small business, a large enterprise or a Federal agency. We hope you’ll join us. Click here to register.
Boxer Advisors, LLC, is a full-service consulting, training and coaching firm with more than 50 professional consultants, facilitators, and coaches and carefully selected partners providing services to Federal agencies and Fortune 1000 companies since 1996.
Photo credit: www.sba.org