The U.S. Small Business Association (SBA) is putting on an eight-city tour dubbed "Startup America: Reducing Barriers Roundtables," featuring senior officials from the Obama Administration, to get the public's input on how government can reduce barriers and be more supportive of innovation and entrepreneurship. The purpose is to get ideas from you on how to help small business growth.
If I were attending one of the roundtables, I'd share the following: There are two distinct types of small businesses with different needs. The first is the mom and pop business that is part of every vibrant local community. These are folks who want to grow their business over time and be a contributor to the community.
The government and related organizations such as the SBA need to help these hometown business owners understand what resources are available to them that they're essentially already paying for—organizations such as SCORE or the SBDC, which are interested in helping businesses grow, not in selling something to them. Businesses need to be aware of this resource network, which is there to help them succeed.
Next, there are the innovation businesses that are out to radically change an industry and tend to reward venture capitalists and founders when they succeed. For this type of startup, it's all about funding and encouraging universities to develop programs to incubate such innovation within the walls of their institution. Such innovation should cut across all the insular schools within a campus so that the law, medical, and business students are working together to bring the idea to fruition. Such innovation and cross-school development could be a huge money contributor to the university should the idea succeed as a business.
In both cases, the government should do whatever it can to remove the financial and legislative barriers that make it more difficult for small business owners to finance and operate their fledgling businesses. I love that the SBA is sponsoring this tour and looking to reduce the number of hurdles and roadblocks that must be cleared by businesses trying to get off the ground. Small business is the lifeblood of our economy, so whatever we can do to support them gets a thumbs up from me.
If you live in the one of the eight cities on the tour (the first roundtable was held earlier this week in Durham, N.C., and more are coming this month), you can sign up to attend one of the events. For those who can't make it, you can email your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org. I'd also encourage you to share in the comments below your thoughts on how we as a nation can reduce the barriers to start-up success.