Small Business Majority Blog

Small Business Matters

The president’s State of the Union speech last night touched on many of small business owners’ key concerns, particularly increasing consumer demand by strengthening the middle class, closing corporate tax loopholes and ensuring open and fair Internet access for all. What’s more, the president highlighted the importance of small businesses and the middle class—the engine of small business prosperity.

Small business job creation significantly outperformed that of big businesses in 2014. Creating smart policies that support our nation’s job creators and their middle-class customer base is the most common sense way to ensure our economy continues down a pathway to prosperity.

Unfortunately though, small businesses too often find their needs being subordinated to those of big business, and sometimes even hijacked to support polices that don’t benefit them or their middle-class customers. We know from our polling that consumer demand is the top concern for small business owners, and one of the best ways to create that demand is to strengthen the middle class. According to the Public Affairs Council, 68 percent of respondents say they prefer to shop at local small businesses. But in order to get more people into local stores and restaurants, we need smart economic policies that will bolster our nation’s job creators and their middle-class customer base.

While we would have liked to see some more small business-friendly proposals in the president’s remarks, including ones that address access to capital, a healthcare marketplace that works and policies that create greater demand for their goods and services, many of the plans the president outlined are ones small business owners support, including:

  • Closing corporate tax loopholes that put small businesses at a disadvantage, and cutting the top corporate tax rates. Small Business Majority’s opinion polling found 75 percent of entrepreneurs believe their small business is harmed when big corporations use loopholes to avoid taxes, and 90 percent believe big corporations use loopholes to avoid taxes that small businesses have to pay.
  • Expanding broadband in rural areas and ensuring a fair and open Internet, which will help drive business growth, entrepreneurship and job creation. Small Business Majority’s polling found 59 percent of small businesses support creating a nationwide wireless network and expanding access to high-speed wireless services.
  • Calling on Congress to work together to find solutions to reform the immigration system, something small business owners support. Small business owners recognize our current immigration system is broken and believe fixing it will help them foster a better workforce and stronger economies.

While the president’s speech highlighted many of the issues small employers see as vital to our economic success, we need lawmakers to start acting on policies that level the playing field for small firms and put them in a position to succeed. By taking action on smart policies like these, lawmakers can help the small business community and middle class grow and thrive.

As we enjoy the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, here at Small Business Majority we’re celebrating a very successful 2014. And with a new Congress coming to Washington in January, we’re looking forward to continuing our efforts on the small business front in 2015.  See below for some of our biggest accomplishments from the past year.

  • This year we conducted polling on several new topics such as workforce training, election reform, retirement security and patent reform, while increasing our outreach work in clean energy, minimum wage and entrepreneurship.
  • We continued our extensive outreach efforts informing small businesses about the healthcare law. Small Business Majority outreach staff conducted more than 550 outreach events in 2014, including webinars in both English and Spanish
  • We released our inaugural edition of the Economic Agenda for America’s Futurea set of short and long-term policy recommendations government leaders can follow to ensure an environment where entrepreneurs and our economy can thrive. What’s more, we launched our Entrepreneurship Program to deliver resources and information to entrepreneurs in key areas of running a small business.
  • We spearheaded a campaign garnering more than 160 pledges of support from small business owners willing to help create opportunities for unemployed youth. Small Business Majority staff joined former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on stage to announce our commitment to get 100 small employers to sign a pledge to create job opportunities for young people.
  • Small Business Majority paved the way for a host of scientific polling exploring small business owners’ opinions on raising the minimum wage. We followed up our successful media release with a series of online guides in several states to help small employers understand how efforts to raise the minimum wage would impact their businesses, and the state’s economy on the whole.
  • Last but not least, Small Business Majority continued to grow in 2014. We’re now a team of 33, staffing 14 offices in 10 states and Washington, D.C. In August, we announced our expansion into three regions, which has allowed us to continue building on our successful regional and state-based approach that is already at the core of our work.

For additional highlights from 2014, check out our new end of year report and our video outlining our biggest accomplishments of the year.

We wish you all the best this holiday season and look forward to working with you on the small business front in 2015!

As a tool, digital media’s ability to appeal to niche audiences is unparalleled. Susana Baumann is an entrepreneur who capitalized on its power to help an underserved group she herself is a part of: Latina businesswomen.

LatinasInBusiness.us, or LIBizus, is an initiative of LCS Worldwide Language and Multicultural Marketing Communications, a small business Baumann started nearly 20 years ago.

LIBizus is a site dedicated to the economic empowerment of Latina businesswoman, one of the fastest growing business communities in the nation. The site launched in September of 2014 in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month.

“LIBizus has been designed to provide a space, a window of opportunity and a platform for Latinas who want to share their concerns, expertise, strategies and achievements,” Baumann said.

Acting as a digital resource bank for Latina businesswomen, the site works to connect them with business and trade opportunities, as well as offering business advice and helping these entrepreneurs attract customers to their business.

For Baumann, this initiative has a deep-rooted personal connection for her, as well.

“As an immigrant, Latina and small business owner, I want to share my experiences with other Latinas starting or conducting their own businesses so they don’t have to struggle with the barriers and obstacles I encountered while building my own.”

At a time when the economy is still bouncing back from the last devastating recession, a site built on unifying and empowering people to become the entrepreneurs that will help push our economy forward is a welcome presence.

“In the last few years, there has been a lot of talk and action amongst women, and particularly Latinas, towards a leadership movement,” she said. “I agree that it is essential to empower women and build their leadership skills.”

Baumann believes that access is the key, be it access to capital, contacts or the political system, and makes it a major point to ensure LIBizus is a one-stop destination to help women obtain that access.

The digital landscape that has made LIBizus possible also provides its fair set of challenges, particularly because Baumann did not grow up in the digital age. This is a challenge, not an obstacle, for the eager and experimental Baumann.

“I love the technology challenge and the immense possibilities it offers to connect with Latinas in places I have not even visited.”

This passion and drive overflows not only into Baumann’s work, but also how she talks about her work. She refers to LIBizus as her legacy and way of giving back to all those who helped her get to where she is today. And she’s making sure she leaves behind a great legacy for all Latina women.

“The more united we stand, the better we can rise up and help others on the way.”

In less than three years, the Mid-America Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce has skyrocketed from the ground up to become an influential player in the Midwestern LGBT business community.

Founded by Dan Nilsen, CEO of Bishop-McCann, the Mid-America GLCC arose to fill “a big void in the Midwest for a gay and lesbian chamber of commerce,” said Michael Linctecum, executive director of the chamber.

Despite an overall urgency to fill this void, Nilsen took his time to meticulously craft a solid foundation around this affiliate of the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, putting together a crackerjack group of community leaders to form a board that worked well over a year building a professional business organization.

“We opened up for business with a huge kick-off in May 2012 and so far, it’s been an exciting and rewarding two-and-a-half years,” Lintecum said.

At 225 members strong and growing, the Kansas City based chamber has a diverse membership, ranging from large corporations such as Hallmark, to many local small businesses, entrepreneurs and non-profits.

As one of 52 NGLCC affiliates, the Mid-America affiliate offers B2B networking and social events, as well as a host of special programs, with the goal of aiding their constituency base.

“Bottom line – we’re in the business to get LGBT-owned businesses and their allies the professional business help they need,” Lintecum said.

One of their successful programs has been a series called Master Minds, a monthly 90 minute brainstorming session with members of the chamber.

“Fifteen to 20 members come together each month and we have an owner or business present a business challenge they’re facing at that time, and then we brainstorm solutions on how to tackle that challenge,” explained Josh Strodtman, secretary of the chamber.

If would-be entrepreneurs or established business owners are looking for a master-class business training course, the chamber offers the Barnes Leadership Series led by Kay Barnes, former Kansas City mayor and professor at Park University.

The 10-session course meets every month and selects 15 individuals to train and coach on leadership skills like communication, collaboration and conflict management.

These programs are just the tip of the iceberg of what the chamber provides to its members, but they’re all designed with one end goal in mind.

“One of our programming missions is to make sure our programs reach across the spectrum, making sure connections are made to grow your business,” Strodtman said.

Particularly for small businesses, the chamber offers a business equality conference with a particular focus on them, as well as taking on the responsibility of assisting LGBT-owned businesses become certified under the NGLCC.

“If a small business were to join [us], they would certainly see the immediate benefits,” Lintecum said.

The next step for the chamber is growth, expanding further into the states of Missouri and Kansas, as well as targeting Iowa, Nebraska and Oklahoma with a main goal to cultivate a presence in all major Midwestern cities – a bit of a challenge for the still nascent organization.

“We don’t need to necessarily grow immediately, but grow with time in a very thoughtful way so members can receive the unique benefits they can’t get anywhere else,” Lintecum said.

Nevertheless, the strides and massive support the chamber has obtained in such a short span of time are never eclipsed by the work that lies ahead.

“In these three years, we couldn’t be more thrilled to have this many people and the reach of our membership.”

Season greetings from Small Business Majority!

With the days getting shorter and the temperature getting colder, you should be shopping smaller.

As the holiday season kicks into full gear, Small Business Majority is extending our “Confessions of a Small Biz Shopaholic” campaign to encourage consumers to shop small this holiday season and to drum up business for brick and mortar shops nationwide.

This time, we want to see how you are decking the halls around your small business to attract customers for the holiday season. For the remainder of the year,we will be posting photos from people shopping at and supporting their local small businesses and how small businesses are decorating their storefronts in order to spotlight them during a crucial time of year for many small retailers.

Whether it’s a selfie of a fun shopping adventure, a cool shot of all the goodies you snatched up at your favorite local business or a decked out store interior strung up with lights, tinsel and holly, we can’t wait to highlight all the small business shopaholics and the businesses they love.

The small business owner who sends in the most creative photo will be chosen as our grand prize winner and receive a complete revamp of their social media platforms, courtesy of Small Business Majority.

Additionally, the top five submissions will receive a profile of their business to be feature on our blog.

And speaking of social media, be sure to follow along with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to see our “Confessions of a Small Biz Shopaholic” campaign in action, and be sure to join in on our conversation around this campaign using the hashtag #SmallBizShopaholic.

Show us how you’re getting into the holiday spirit by entering our contest, and you could be ringing in the New Year with one of our fabulous prizes. And remember, as you get your shop on this year, make sure you go big by shopping small!

To submit a photo into our “Confessions of a Small Biz Shopaholic” campaign, email dmcmanus@smallbusinessmajority.org.