Just sent off a happy gram to the good people at Change.gov about small business. Here's what I said:
Small business is the engine that drives the economy, but the government has had little real focus on small business development in years. Multiple heads of the SBA in the Bush Administration, little in terms of money and talent. Little commitment. Now, we see the erosion of small business and the very agency tasked to support business growth is struggling for its own survival.
If the SBA was a small business, they'd be having their own fire sale.
Here's my coaching for you: Transform the Small Business Administration and appoint a new Director--fast!
The scope of the SBA is too broad to help all of the very diverse business needs: non-employee microenterprise small businesses (0 employees), microenterprise small busineese (1-10 staffers), small-small businesses (10 - 50 or 75), small companies (75 - 250 employees) and larger small businesses (250 - 500 people).
Right now, with very little resources and scant support, they are tasked with job creation. There's little time, energy or resources for anything else.
Divide up the SBA into business support segments (as described above). Given the fact that there has been shrinkage among non-microenterprise small businesses (something like 12% over the past half dozen years and dramatic growth among microenterprise (especially non-employee micro-e businesses), where are some inescapable facts: we can't afford for these businesses to fail (and add more job seekers to the tightening job market) and these businesses fill an important role in America.
Create an office of microenterprise small business soon, lest these businesses disappear.
While I am sympathetic to the plight of new businesses, I am also cognizant of the fact that with its reliance on SCORE rather than existing consultancies, the federal government has set itself up to compete with some of the very small businesses they are there to support.
Further, the SBA is training business leaders that the services of consultants should be cheap or free. They never learn that as their businesses grow, their needs for more advanced business consulting and support services grows as well.
Finally, I find it shocking that the SBA does not offer specific HR services and consulting to the businesses they support. With all eyes on the meltdown over executive compensation, union wages and other weighty human resources matters, I can't help but wonder whether the SBA is enabling the next generation of businesses to overpay execs, exploit workers, and hobble themselves with comp and benefits decisions they should (1) never have made and (2) would have made differently with specific counsel.
Thanks for listening.
Lalita Amos, MRHM
Total Team Solutions, LLC