As the Regional Administrator for the Pacific Rim for SBA, and as Associate Administrator for the Office of Field Operations, I’ve had the honor to work closely with small business owners across the nation.
A year ago, I wrote a note of gratitude to small business owners. Looking back at it a year later, nobody would have imagined the unprecedented challenge that our small businesses and community would face this year. Traveling across the Pacific states, and recently to Arizona with SBA Administrator Carranza, we heard how the pandemic affected small businesses and how the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) has allowed employers to keep their employees on payroll and pivot their operations to adapt to a new normal. In Arizona alone, 85,765 PPP forgivable loans were issued, totaling over $8.6 billion to local small businesses.
SBA wants to personally thanks the job creating entrepreneurs and their families for their daily sacrifice to keep local economies going, especially during these unique times.
These are 10 characteristics of American entrepreneurs that, now more than ever, have supported local economies as they adapt to today’s challenges.
- Visionaries: During COVID-19, many entrepreneurs took a leap of faith in starting a business to meet today’s needs. Entrepreneurs saw a public health need and created services and products to keep the public safe.
- Risk Takers: Small businesses, like the rest of the country, navigated never seen obstacles. Small businesses pivoted to keeping their employees safe while learning new ways to operate, such as outdoor dining, online services, door deliveries, home kits, and so much more.
- Financial Managers: As the pandemic unfolded, small business owners looked at SBA for resources. The PPP was a lifeline that allowed employees to stay on payroll. Over $525 billion was provided in forgivable loans nationwide. Many small businesses had their cash flow come to a full stop, yet continue to pay their employees, sometimes even from their own personal savings. The PPP allowed small businesses to manage their financial resources to navigate new ways of doing business.
- Job Creators: When an entrepreneur starts their own business, they create new jobs in the community. Small businesses generate two of every three net new jobs and deliver essential goods and services to our community. The pandemic has resulted in new products and services, creating new jobs to meet today’s needs. Entrepreneurs are helping our communities bring solutions to continue to keep the public safe and families employed.
- Daily Hustlers: The daily hustle of entrepreneurs, their families and team, especially the grit and grind during the COVID-19 pandemic, is relentless. SBA understands the many sacrifices entrepreneurship brings. Our Agency provides numerous dedicated resources online and on your schedule, such as webinars, online meetings, and online tools to assist entrepreneurs in learning new ways of operating in today’s environment and preparing for tomorrow’s.
- Persistent: Entrepreneurs are persistent in following the ongoing changes to business COVID-19 operations required by local, state, and federal regulations in order to successfully manage a business and keep the community safe. The ongoing changes mean businesses must pivot from one day to the next, and they are tenacious in finding solutions to comply with regulations and stay in business.
- Problem Solvers: An entrepreneur’s daily journey is filled with challenges that must be solved, especially now more than ever. From learning about new public health practices, operating outside, online orders, door delivery, online marketing, and so on. SBA’s resources, such as SCORE, provide free mentoring and education to business owners to learn from others who have been through the entrepreneurship journey.
- Focused: Among all the tasks that must be done to run a successful business, entrepreneurs know how to stay focused. SBA provides online and local resources to assist entrepreneurs while balancing personal growth, managing and scaling up their business. SBA is continually providing new online resources for small business owners. We encourage small business owners to sign up to get the SBA newsletter to stay updated on new tools at https://www.sba.gov/updates
- Community Builders: The workers hired by small businesses are not just employees; they become part of the business family. That is why small businesses signed up for the PPP, a forgivable loan that provided over $525 billion to small businesses to keep employees on payroll. About half of all American workers are either employed by a small business or own a small business. The PPP was a lifeline that allowed communities across the nation to adapt to a new normal.
- Community Supporters: Local small business owners sponsor little leagues, youth sports, non-profit organizations and local charity causes. In addition, local small businesses bring in revenue for local governments that provide essential police and fire protection and improve local parks. SBA understands that small businesses enrich local communities by bringing unique flavors to main streets throughout America, and services to keep communities thriving. That is why SBA will continue to listen to small businesses and find ways to continue recovery.
How do we, as a community, support local businesses as they recover from today’s challenges? We encourage you to shop and dine or order out at local small businesses and support local businesses. Now more than ever, the public knows how small businesses are the heartbeat of local economies.
Michael Vallante is the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Associate Administrator for the Office of Field Operations, overseeing the 68 district offices and nine Regional Administrators; and Regional Administrator for Region IX, overseeing the Agency’s programs and services in California, Arizona, Nevada, Hawaii and Guam.