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Celebrating U.S. Entrepreneurship This National Small Business Week

This blog is part of our “Road to Reauthorization” blog series, that builds off BPC’s latest small business report, Small Agency, Big Mandate: A Bipartisan Road Map to Modernizing SBA. The series provides small business owners, stakeholders, and advocates with updates and insight on congressional progress toward reauthorization of SBA. You can read the first blog in our series on congressional support for reauthorization here.

There is a lot to celebrate during National Small Business Week this year—not least of which is the grit, ambition, and optimism that characterize the American entrepreneurial spirit.

Entrepreneurship is responsible for nearly all net new job creation in the U.S. economy. To fully appreciate this phenomenon, consider how different the small business landscape looks today than it did three years ago at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Between February 2020 and April 2020, the number of active business owners in the United States fell by 3.3 million, the largest drop on record. Black business owners were especially hard hit, with a 41% drop in business activity during this time.

As small businesses shut their doors, millions of Americans also lost their ability to earn wages. Unemployment jumped to 14.7% in April 2020 and was still at a pre-pandemic high of 7.9% in September 2020, when National Small Business Week was held that year.

Things look much brighter today than those dark spring days three years ago, with Americans starting new businesses at record rates and unemployment back to its January 2020 low of 3.5%.

From 2020 through 2022, the number of new business applications filed with the IRS rose to an annual average of 4.9 million—a 78% increase from the annual average of 2.8 million new businesses created between 2005 and 2019.

As we celebrate these entrepreneurs, it is also important to recognize those that provide guidance and help to small business owners. Entrepreneurs and small business owners are supported by a robust ecosystem of service providers and programs, whose assistance and coaching helps them overcome many barriers new and small businesses encounter.

The Small Business Administration’s (SBA) entrepreneurial development programs, including Small Business Development Centers, Women’s Business Centers, and SCORE, comprise vital parts of this ecosystem.

And while celebration is certainly in order during National Small Business Week, any true appreciation for entrepreneurs and small business owners should also spark a desire to help—and help is needed.

Small business owners continue to face challenges posed by inflation and hiring qualified workers, not to mention long-standing issues like those related to accessing capital and navigating red tape.

Encouragingly, there are signs that Congress is committed to helping, as bipartisan interest in SBA reauthorization is growing.

What better way for policymakers to show their appreciation for entrepreneurs and small business owners than by matching their drive and innovative sprit in pursuit of a top-to-bottom modernization of the federal agency meant to “aid, counsel, assist, and protect” small businesses?

National Small Business Week also offers a chance to consider areas of public policy beyond the purview of SBA that matter for small businesses. This includes efforts to help small businesses offer retirement plans to employees, recruit skilled workers, and support their employees’ family needs. Throughout the week, BPC will highlight our work on not only SBA reform but on other areas of importance to small business owners.

The potential of American entrepreneurs could grow considerably if policymakers removed many of the barriers blocking entrepreneurs’ paths; improved the delivery of government programs meant to help them; and made clear, through improved communication and marketing, what is now an often-confusing process of navigating government assistance.

During National Small Business Week, we encourage policymakers and stakeholders to join BPC in reflecting on how far we’ve come, assessing the challenges of today, and pursuing a better, more prosperous future for small businesses.

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