Understanding Confidence

April 18, 2016

I think confidence comes from the story that you tell yourself.
-Jane Grote Abell, founding family member of Donatos Pizza and Chairwoman of the Board

It is often said that small business is the lifeblood of the economy. In the United States, small businesses create jobs and wealth in every corner. Given the critical importance of small business, last week’s small business sentiment measure alarmed me. Should it?

The report showed that small business owners are still planning to invest in their enterprises and many still have plans to hire, but their short-term confidence in the economy is worse than it’s been in two years.

It could be that small business is constantly under pressure. Large competitors loom in nearly every industry, and for what they lack in connection to the community, large companies have scale and buying power that makes them difficult to compete with.

Small business is also under pressure from within, with new competitors seemingly coming out of the woodwork each day or setting up across the street. Technology is increasing the ability of a single person to disrupt local businesses that have existed for decades.

Additionally, small business is in a constant tug of war with the government. Small business owners would like more support and access to markets and capital, but they would also prefer to be left alone to grow their businesses without undo regulation and bureaucracy, so they can remain nimble and market-oriented.

It is important that those of us concerned with the economic development system pay close attention to this measure. If small business owners are concerned, we should be concerned. If they are optimistic, we should be optimistic.

I ask you all to do a few things this week. First, take a look at the U.S. Small Business Administration’s website for facts and programs. It is quite good. Second, plan to do something for National Small Business Week or Columbus Startup Week, which take place May 1-7. Finally, take the time to both thank small business owners, and ask them how they are feeling about their companies and the economy.

Whether you are an elected official, an economic development professional, or a corporate ally, it is important that we all understand the confidence level of those who drive such an important part of our economy.

-Kenny McDonald

Connect with state and local partners for small business resources in the Columbus Region.

One Columbus Update

  • This week, the One Columbus team is conducting business development missions in China and Germany. While in Germany, we’ll also join JobsOhio at Hannover Messe, the world’s leading trade fair for industrial technology.
  • Next week, our team will travel to San Francisco to meet with companies and consultants.