It starts with an idea. It begins with the idea that something new is needed or that something that currently exists could be made better. It could also just be the idea that freedom to work for oneself is preferred over working for someone else. These ideas are the seeds of small business in the United States. Small businesses exist in enormous numbers in this country and employ millions of people providing a product or service. They are the generators of innovation, invention, and productivity that are the foundation of our economic system.
I've been spending a lot of time talking to small business owners in our community since I started running, and I always come away impressed with their courage and their community focus. They're not just business owners, they're our neighbors, our fellow PTA members, and our friends. They contribute to the community not just because it's good for business, but because they know they're a part of it.
According to the last census, there are about 28 Million small businesses registered in the United States. The Small Business Administration indicates that roughly 60% of the 126 million people employed in the United States are employed by small businesses. 99.7% of U.S. firms with employees are small businesses. That’s 75 million people working in firms employing less than 500 people. Of those 75 Million, roughly 15 million people are either self-employed and have less than 4 people working for them. This country runs on small business. It is the life blood of our commerce and the engine of productivity in this country. Pick any industry sector: healthcare, construction, retail and food service, or technology services, and you will see millions of small businesses that are generating products and services that drive exports, consumption and progress for the United States. Roughly 48% of US GDP is driven by small business.
Here in Texas, as of 2015, small business accounted for about 45.6% of employment with more than 4.4 million jobs in the private work force. The pattern is similar across the country and shows us how important this cohort of businesses is to our overall economic health and prosperity.
Small businesses are vitally important to our communities. Irrespective of business type, small business brings diversity of thought, talent, and experience that enrich our communities in countless ways. The variety of small businesses that exist in our neighborhoods is amazing. There’s the body shop, the dry cleaner, the insurance agent or the favorite family-owned restaurant; the furniture upholsterers, real estate agents and financial advisers.
Small businesses owners are terrific examples of the spirit of entrepreneurship that thrives in this country. It takes an enormous amount of courage to strike out on one’s own. It takes persistence, talent, patience, and often a lot of good luck to make an idea turn into a successful business. The idea that takes shape around a kitchen table, in a garage or dorm room and takes root to grow into a thriving enterprise is a dream of many who set off on this journey. McDonald’s, Microsoft, Apple, and Uber started as small companies with big ideas. While most small businesses won’t ever grow into a Fortune 100 corporation, the spirit that made fortunes for Ray Kroc, Bill Gates, and Steve Jobs is the same spirit that drives the individual to start the corner store or create a new local craft-brewery. It is a spirit that should be fostered and assisted. It should be celebrated, for it turns ideas into realities and shows those coming next what is possible.