Gone are the days when small business owners were individuals lacking formal education or corporate skills. Due to the advent of the Internet and social media, social status or level of education are no longer the defining criteria for achieving success in entrepreneurship.
Because of that, small businesses have become a really important part of national economies in recent times. This trend is now observable in a number of developed and developing countries. SBEs (small business enterprises) contribute to half of the total GDP in such developed countries as Japan and the USA. This gives one a pretty good idea of how essential SBEs are to the continual growth of any economy. However, in some countries, small businesses are oftentimes underrepresented, and it's high time that changed.
To better understand the role SBEs play, we should first consider some basic economic concepts.
What is a Small Business Enterprise (SBE)?
There isn't a universally accepted definition of small business enterprises. In the United States, SBEs are referred to as commercial entities that employ a staff of 500 and have little influence on the market segment they operate in. In their turn, Europeans define them as having fewer than 250 people.
What is an economy?
An economy can be defined as a system of buying, selling, and producing goods and services. The most basic component of any economy is the distribution of money, or putting it simply, buying and selling. There are many interdependent factors that influence economic growth or decline of a nation, such as labor, law, infrastructure, natural resources, human capital, and technology. For the purpose of this article, we will focus on small business enterprises and their influence on a national economy. There are numerous ways in which SME ensure collective growth of an economy but we'll focus on these four:
- It serves as a source of employment.
- It helps reduce poverty.
- It alleviates tax burden on small business owners.
- It reduces crime.
Due to the abundance of information on social media, it has become relatively easy for literally anyone today to start a small business. All it takes is having some start-up capital and Internet access. However, small business owners need to employ people to ensure their company's growth. Because of the small initial costs involved, people are constantly looking for ways to launch their own SBEs. Examples of such small enterprises include companies hiring custom writers for people who can buy cheap essay, Wieners Circle, Death wish Coffee, etc.
One form of trading that has become very instrumental in facilitating the creation of small businesses is e-commerce (online shopping). E-commerce makes it possible to start a profitable business with no infrastructure at all, and that means little start-up costs. Small business enterprises serve as an excellent alternative source of employment, especially when it comes to jobs that don't require graduate level education. And this, in turn, translates to increased economic growth and development.
Poverty is undeniably one of the main reasons for economic stagnation. Poverty and unemployment go hand in hand, which means that the former can be eradicated by providing more job opportunities. And the best way to do that is to encourage the creation of SBEs at the community level. Given the low start-up costs involved, it's safe to say that an economy that invests in SBEs is sure to experience exponential growth within the shortest possible time.
A spike in crime rate is undeniably another anti-economic growth indicator. That's because it imposes a huge economic burden on the affected communities and taxpayers. And the worst thing is that investors make it a rule to avoid crime-ridden areas.
So what can be done to improve a country's economy if it is filled with crime-ridden communities? To tackle a problem of this magnitude, we've got to first understand its underlying cause, which is joblessness. In fact, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure that out. If that's the case, then creating SBEs seems to be the logical thing to do. In other words, by creating jobs in these communities, you provide people with an opportunity to make an honest living and give a boost to your economy.
Tax payment is one of the major channels through which governments get revenue. As of 2010, small businesses accounted for 50% of the total GDP (Gross Domestic Product) in the United States, one of the strongest economies on the planet. This means that half of the foundation of one of the world's biggest economy is based on the input of SBEs. And as we all know, the ratio of tax revenue to GDP is directly proportional. In other words, tax revenue increases as GDP increases. So, not only do small businesses affect GDP but they also directly affect tax revenue. Given that, a rapid decline in output of SBEs will automatically cause a rapid decline in economic growth.
Because of the small start-up costs involved, SMEs are relatively easy to create and run. That is exactly the reason why more and more of them are started on a regular basis in developed and developing countries. This fact alone underscores the grave importance of small businesses. Their growing number means more employment opportunities which, in turn, translates to increased tax revenue and GDP.
Now that you know the role small businesses play in a nation's economy, it should be pretty clear to you that they ensure global financial stability. And this further reinforces the belief that we all have significant roles to play in nation building, no matter how small they may be.
During a recent meeting on Microsoft Teams, I couldn't seem to get a single word out.
When I tried to chime in, I kept getting interrupted. At one point two individuals talked right over me and over each other. When I thought it was finally my turn, someone else parachuted in from out of nowhere. When I raised and waved my hand as if I was in grade school to be called on (yes, I had my camera on) we swiftly moved on to the next topic. And then, completely frustrated, I stayed on mute for the remainder of the meeting. I even momentarily shut off my camera to devour the rest of my heavily bruised, brown banana. (No one needed to see that.)
This wasn't the first time I had struggled to find my voice. Since elementary school, I always preferring the back seat unless the teacher assigned me a seat in the front. In high school, I did piles of extra credit or mini-reports to offset my 0% in class participation. In college, I went into each lecture nauseous and with wasted prayers — wishing and hoping that I wouldn't be cold-called on by the professor.
By the time I got to Corporate America, it was clear that if I wanted to lead, I needed to pull my chair up (and sometimes bring my own), sit right at the table front and center, and ask for others to make space for me. From then on, I found my voice and never stop using it.
But now, all of a sudden, in this forced social experiment of mass remote working, I was having trouble being heard… again. None of the coaching I had given myself and other women on finding your voice seemed to work when my voice was being projected across a conference call and not a conference room.
I couldn't read any body language. I couldn't see if others were about to jump in and I should wait or if it was my time to speak. They couldn't see if I had something to say. For our Microsoft teams setting, you can only see a few faces on your screen, the rest are icons at the bottom of the window with a static picture or even just their name. And, even then, I couldn't see some people simply because they wouldn't turn their cameras on.
If I did get a chance to speak and cracked a funny joke, well, I didn't hear any laughing. Most people were on mute. Or maybe the joke wasn't that funny?
At one point, I could hear some heavy breathing and the unwrapping of (what I could only assume was) a candy bar. I imagined it was a Nestle Crunch Bar as my tummy rumbled in response to the crinkling of unwrapped candy. (There is a right and a wrong time to mute, people.)
At another point, I did see one face nodding at me blankly.
They say that remote working will be good for women. They say it will level the playing field. They say it will be more inclusive. But it won't be for me and others if I don't speak up now.
- Start with turning your camera on and encouraging others to do the same. I was recently in a two-person meeting. My camera was on, but the other person wouldn't turn theirs on. In that case, ten minutes in, I turned my camera off. You can't stare at my fuzzy eyebrows and my pile of laundry in the background if I can't do the same to you. When you have a willing participant, you'd be surprised by how helpful it can be to make actual eye contact with someone, even on a computer (and despite the fuzzy eyebrows).
- Use the chatbox. Enter in your questions. Enter in your comments. Dialogue back and forth. Type in a joke. I did that recently and someone entered back a laughing face — reaffirming that I was, indeed, funny.
- Designate a facilitator for the meeting: someone leading, coaching, and guiding. On my most recent call, a leader went around ensuring everyone was able to contribute fairly. She also ensured she asked for feedback on a specific topic and helped move the discussion around so no one person took up all the airtime.
- Unmute yourself. Please don't just sit there on mute for the entire meeting. Jump in and speak up. You will be interrupted. You will interrupt others. But don't get frustrated or discouraged — this is what work is now — just keep showing up and contributing.
- Smile, and smile big. Nod your head in agreement. Laugh. Give a thumbs up; give two! Wave. Make a heart with your hands. Signal to others on the call who are contributing that you support and value them. They will do the same in return when your turn comes to contribute.
It's too easy to keep your camera turned off. It's too easy to stay on mute. It's too easy to disappear. But now is not the time to disappear. Now is the time to stay engaged and networked within our organizations and communities.
So please don't put yourself on mute.
Well, actually, please do put yourself on mute so I don't have to hear your heavy breathing, candy bar crunching, or tinkling bathroom break.
But after that, please take yourself off mute so you can reclaim your seat (and your voice) at the table.