BYOB - Be Your Own Boss: Celebrate National Small Business Week


Posted on 25 May 2012

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By Claudia Viek, California Association for Micro Enterprise Opportunity

To celebrate National Small Business Week, CAMEO, the California Association for Micro Enterprise Opportunity, supports the truly small businesses that make up 89% of California’s businesses. 

Businesses with five or fewer employees are the new normal. The Bureau of Labor statistics reported in March that the average size of new start-ups was 4.7 employees in 2011 – that’s down from 7.6 employees in the 1990’s. And the share of the self-employed in the labor market is growing more than twice as fast as it did before 2000. Whether it’s the technological gains that allow high productivity or the disappearance of the ‘safe corporate job', the reality is that businesses are starting smaller (and perhaps staying smaller) and more people want to build their own their own business.

Last week, Hewlett-Packard announced lay-offs of 25,000 or more. If we want job growth, if we want to solve our long-term unemployed problem, then we cannot rely anymore on the big corporations to create those jobs.  As firms get smaller, we need to create more small businesses. These very small or micro-businesses are the future our economy.

To create more businesses, we need good strategies to help these businesses start and thrive and we need to broaden the spectrum of businesses that we purport to help with current policy. President Obama’s proposed small business tax credit and other tax plans will help some small businesses, but they won’t help the state’s 89% of small businesses with fewer than five employees or the self-employed.  

Nor will tax plans help the rural areas of California.  A recent profile of businesses in the Sierras by the Sierra Business Council indicates that the number of businesses with five or fewer employees in the vast rural areas of the State is more on the order of ninety-five percent (95%) of all businesses.

To celebrate National Small Business Week, CAMEO urges policy makers to do something that will really help the majority of small businesses - support business start-ups with business assistance and microloans. Specifically, Congress should fund the SBA PRIME Program, the Microloan Technical Assistance programs, Women Business Centers, and Small Business Development Centers at their 2010 level. 

This week, we sent a letter to our California delegation in Washington, asking them to do just that.  At the state level, we can strengthen and build capacity of the organizational infrastructure throughout California – the entrepreneurial training programs and microlenders - that supports the creation, sustainability and expansion of micro-businesses.  A relatively small investment in these programs provides big returns in terms of job creation and economic growth.

And that means more Californians can BYOB - Be Their Own Boss. 

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Claudia Viek is the C.E.O. of CAMEO – the California Association for Micro Enterprise Opportunity - the statewide network of microlenders (loans under $50K) and entrepreneurial training programs (think mini-MBA).