Small Business Innovations

22 May

May 20-26 is national small business week. Here in California the news about the economy – and small businesses in particular – is a mixed bag.

The good: the statewide unemployment rate has dipped below 11%.

The bad: the state shed over 4,000 jobs last month.

And the ugly: the state deficit has now soared to nearly $16 billion.

But what does this mean for small businesses in the state?

In San Francisco, 52 percent of small business owners are confident in their local economy. This comes on the heels of a nationwide survey that finds that California and New York are the “least friendly” states for small business. (Idaho and Texas are the friendliest, if you were wondering.)

Los Angeles County earned an “F” for overall business climate, even though it’s home to a slew of small businesses (the region has more freelancers than any other county in the U.S.).

Given that 98% of U.S. businesses are classified as small businesses, it’s important to understand what constitutes a “friendly” business environment. And, surprisingly, it isn’t high taxation that’s driving potential small business owners away. For many, the biggest hurdle is dealing with illogical and burdensome state and local licensing processes.

So what are local governments, non-profits, and small business groups doing to ease the burden for small business owners at a local level?

In Chicago, the City Council approved an ordinance to “reduce the number of Chicago business licenses from 117 to 49.” With 117 business licenses, the city has more business categories (and, presumably, more red tape) than Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Phoenix, and Atlanta combined. In the end, the measure is expected to save businesses more than $2 million.

In New York, where street vendors are plagued by a myriad of regulations and steep penalties, the City Council is considering lowering the fines that can put vendors out of work. To help navigate the complex regulatory landscape, the Center for Urban Pedagogy and The Street Vendor Project have created a nifty multi-lingual infographic that explains the do’s and don’ts of street vending in New York.

In addition, the New York City Economic Development Corporation has made a host of affordable workspaces available to artists, fashion designers, and business entrepreneurs throughout the city.

In Los Angeles, the Community Financial Resource Center (CFRC) is providing lending opportunities (e.g., microloans, peer lending, and small business loans) and business development tools to underserved communities. Given that Los Angeles leads the nation in minority-owned small businesses, this is good news.

In Northern California, Green For All’s Capital Access Program is providing support services for small business entrepreneurs looking to get involved in the green economy.

In all, California’s economy still underwhelms in these difficult times. But for all of its detractors, many are arguing that our state is still golden. By continuing to learn from success stories and by building on our existing strengths, California’s small business community can continue to innovate and add value to the state’s economy.

3 Responses to “Small Business Innovations”

  1. business loans August 22, 2012 at 9:46 am #

    I have been searching for hours and I haven’t found such awesome work.This is too informative.I like your way of blogging.

  2. MaximBeglov September 4, 2012 at 1:49 pm #

    I agree with previous comment. Very interesting post.
    Maybe state needs some kind of event which will help small innovative companies. For example, I’m from Russia, and our government support this kind of business. Moscow will an event in October, dedicated to this subject:

  3. MaximBeglov September 4, 2012 at 1:49 pm #

    *will host

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