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Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success. Henry Ford
For the last three years, the drums have been banging – small business will lead us out of this recession! So how are we doing? We have seen improvements, granted, but I talk to a lot of business owners and recovery still seems light years away for many.
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That got me thinking. What would we really need to do to super charge the economy, help our small businesses grow and put more people back to work?
While reducing regulatory and tax burdens to create a climate that is business friendly is crucial, I knew from the hundreds of conversations I was having with small business, this wasn’t the real reason why most weren’t growing. It was much more complicated.
I started with the numbers. According to the last US Census on Small Business, there are close to 115,000 small businesses in Minnesota less than 500 employees (see chart below). Of those, almost 80% have less than 10 employees, which is about the limit that most small business owners can handle without hiring someone to supervise their team. And hiring a manger or supervisor can be a big leap emotionally and financially for a lot of business owners, let alone developing a business plan that would employ an additional 5, 10, 25 or more employees.
Minnesota Small Businesses by Number of Employees
Firms with no employees 14,113
Firms with 1 to 4 employees 55,895
Firms with 5 to 9 employees 18,579
Firms with 10 to 19 employees 11,787
Firms with 20 to 49 employees 7,542
Firms with 50 to 99 employees 2,867
Firms with 100 to 499 employees 2,746
When I talk to business owners with less than 10 employees many, somewhat sheepishly, say that employees are their biggest challenge and hiring more of them (and great ones at that) is overwhelming. So they continue to do everything themselves, stalling their growth and potential. But what if we could provide these businesses with the resources, education and support they need to take small steps to grow and hire instead of equating growth with big jumps?
Up sprouted a simple idea – AccelerateMN. A collaborative of small business supporters, leaders and owners who believe that each one of us plays an instrumental role in our community and the state’s economic growth engine. And that together, we can experience amazing things. While it is exciting when a business sees rapid growth and hires 50 or 100 employees, we believe that tremendous and real impact can be had if each business commits to grow by just one!
And if each one, hired one, we could add more than 115,000 jobs in Minnesota this year. Now that would be quite extraordinary!