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Thinking small (business)

Scott Jagow Mar 6, 2009

One of the biggest complaints people have about our bailout-stricken economy is — where’s the love for the entrepreneur? In one survey of voters last fall, more than 70% said entrepreneurship the health of the economy depends on the success of entrepreneurs.

Now, this survey comes from the Kauffman Foundation, which champions entrepreneurship, but I think it’s widely recognized that small business is a huge engine of our economy and of job creation. And there we have a serious problem.

Only 26 percent of these people said they’d consider starting a business in the next five years. And this was last fall. It’s probably down to zero by now. At this point, what may be more discouraging to them than the economy itself is a sense that perhaps entrepreneurship isn’t a priority for the government’s economic stimulus efforts. It’s got its hands full with the giant dying stars of GM, AIG, Citi, etc.

This week, Businessweek pointed out some government resources for entrepreneurs that are underutilized. But I think a lot of people are looking for a more forceful policy from the President that he understands how crucial small business is to the recovery. You could argue his tax policies say otherwise.

Today in Forbes, Sramana Mitra says Obama’s advisory council needs a voice for entrepreneurs, and by entrepreneurs she means people who scrape and claw their way to starting a business:

… the president needs to first decide that entrepreneurship is a major issue that he cares about, and not just something he gives lip-service to. Then, he needs to recruit an advisory council made up of bootstrapped entrepreneurs, not venture capitalists or super high net worth investors. This will be the key to spawning a million small businesses that employ 10 million people–or more.

And therein lies the engine of growth now silenced by the $20 billion flushed down into General Motors’ bottomless abyss.

Dying star, bottomless abyss. Same thing.

I actually met Sramana Mitra last week at Kauffman. We both attended a forum on economic blogging. And she gave an impassioned speech about this very topic — the need to give small businesses a chance to do their thing for the economy.

My sense is that she speaks for many, many people in this country.

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