Welcome Voices on Small Business

Almost everyone is familiar with the owner of the corner store, a friend or neighbor dabbling away in the garage to create the next big thing, the technology whiz kid, a seasoned executive ready to make a new start or the savvy "mompreneur" who seeks a more flexible schedule.

They are all critical to U.S. competitiveness, especially during an economic downturn. There are nearly 27 million small businesses in the United States that account for about half of the American economy and employ about half of the country's workforce. During the last 15 years, small firms generated 93 percent of the nation's new jobs.

But the self-employed, as well as managers of small or micro businesses, face many hardships that make it difficult to grow their business. Granted, not every small business wants to become a big business, but they all struggle with issues like affordable health care, rising gas prices, access to capital, bureaucratic red tape, an onerous tax code and understanding export opportunities, to name a few.

To see what the experts advise, washingtonpost.com is launching Voices on Small Business, a new video series in partnership with Big Think, that will offer some suggestions, answer questions and spur dialogue on what makes a successful business.

Featured in the launch are: Tom Scott, founder of Nantucket Nectars, Thomas Cooley, the dean of NYU's Stern School of Business, and Fabrice Grinda, founder of OLX and Zingy. You'll be able to see and hear new voices each week.

Small Business Readers: Do you think these folks are providing good advice? Are there questions you would like to see future guests answer? Which leaders or interesting people in the small business community would you like to see participate?

By Sharon McLoone |  May 13, 2008; 9:30 AM ET Tools and Tips
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I think business is suffering from a case of generalization. There are two distinct economies at work today that will affect how a business copes. Each requires their own approach.

There is the Old Economy. The world of hard goods, hard costs, long commutes and limited space and time. The old economy relies on outdated ways of doing things that put added stress on small businesses. This recession will be a recession mostly in the old economy.

Then there is the New Economy. The digital world. An entire globe networked and available at the speed of light. Information and automation scale beyond the constraints of 9-5. A place where currency is evolving to include intangibles like:

Personal Mobility & Freedom

The goal of business is to deliver the benefits consumers want most. How it does it is anyones choice. The solution to many small business ills is to find new ways to do old things and new ways to do new things.

I would write more, but I don't have any incentive to. You don't offer back links and you don't leave a space for my email, so we can't engage in a conversation.

This blog, as well written as it is, is a prime example of generalization. Its meant to look like a web 2.0 communication tool, but it was built by an old economy mindset, so it languishes somewhere in between serving no one in particular. Much like many small businesses that can't keep up with the times.

If you would like to reply visit:

Posted by: Ben Peterson | May 15, 2008 8:44 PM

I have to agree with the previous comment posted by Ben. As an internet business broker specialist I am constantly confronted by old school, old economy minds in banking, accounting and legal that question the legitamcy of internet based small businesses. It amazes me - have these people heard of Amazon.com , Google, MSN, Yahoo, etrade, etc .. . I mean get with the times. There are more online businesses being created every day than any other sector in the brick and mortar world. The power to be self employed has never being easier than in today's digital world. This is the new frontier, the future and the as Ben said - even the Wa Post needs to get with the program and encourage posts like this that allow back links that incentize me or any other blogger to submit further.
David Fairley
Internet Business Broker

Posted by: David Fairley | May 17, 2008 5:51 PM

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