White House unveils new initiative for small business owners, but something is missing

01 Feb 2011

Wendy Kenney

Best-selling author Wendy Kenney owns the company 23 Kazoos, a marketing and publicity firm in Phoenix, Arizona, that has helped companies like Culver's Restaurants, The Arizona Farm Bureau and Tom Chambers Commercial increase their visibility through social media, publicity, and creative marketing strategies.Wendy honed her marketing skills while working for organizations such as MetLife, WebMd, and PacifiCare, as well as owning her own businesses for over 18 years.

As a Marketing Expert, Wendy speaks internationally to corporations and organizations about marketing strategy, branding, and low cost, no cost marketing.

Wendy lives in Phoenix, Arizona, with her husband Mike, and three teenage sons. Her personal goal is to visit all of the Major League Ballparks in the US before she turns 49. So far she has been to 13.

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Home office expert Lisa Kanarek is the founder of WorkingNaked.com and the author of five books about working from home, including her new book Organize Your Home Office for Success. Lisa works with entrepreneurs and home-based employees through seminars and individual consultations, to create functional home offices that meet each individual’s working style.

Yesterday President Obama unveiled a new initiative to encourage entrepreneurship in the United States. Dubbed “Startup America,” the goal of this new program is to encourage “high growth” entrepreneurship to increase the number of new jobs added to the economy.

The program brings together people from both the private and public sectors. According to the White House, leaders from the most innovative corporations, universities, and foundations will partner with government to help increase the number of new business start ups.

The program mainly focuses on expanding new businesses related to healthcare/medicine, clean energy, advanced manufacturing, information technology.

As entrepreneur myself, I applaud the President’s effort. But not being involved in any of those industries, I’m a little disappointed. Why not support all entrepreneurs across all industries? Where’s the initiative for women or minority entrepreneurs?

According to the Washington Post, it’s businesses owned by women and minorities that are going to fuel job growth in the coming years. Recent Census Bureau figures show that the number of women and minorities owned businesses is growing. As of 2007, women owned almost one third of all businesses in America, and minorities owned one in five.
Here’s some key statistics from the Center for Women’s Business Research.

  • 10.1 million firms are owned by women (50% or more), employing more than 13 million people, and generating $1.9 trillion in sales as of 2008.
  • Three quarters of all women-owned businesses are majority owned by women (51% or more), for a total of 7.2 million firms, employing 7.3 million people, and generating $1.1 trillion in sales.
  • Women-owned firms (50% or more) account for 40% of all privately held firms.

Clearly women entrepreneurs and minorities have a significant impact on our economy.
In order to be a true Startup “America” program, I recommend that the President Obama include all businesses types in this initiative. And here is what I suggest be included as far as benefits.

  1. Small business grants and loans for businesses owners who have shown consistency, promise and drive, or who have already made a significant impact in their community.
  2. Develop mentorship and education programs to assist small business owners in the crucial startup phase.
  3. Scholarship: Reward small business owners for investment in their communities by providing scholarships for extended learning.
  4. Legislation: Pass legislation that is favorable to small businesses owners, opening doors up for business ownership.
  5. Provide tax credits for starting a small business and for small business ownership.

These are just a few of my thoughts about what the White House could do to have a “Startup America” program that supports all startup business owners. Not just those who own companies in certain industries.

Small business is the backbone of America, and its small business that is bringing us out of the depths of recession. Let’s support all startups in America Mr. President, it just makes sense.

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