Debate highlights an important question: What is a ‘small business’?

October 4, 2012 at 10:05 am 2 comments

By now, most people have probably already heard that President Obama called Donald Trump a ‘small business’ in last night’s presidential debate. While on the face of it this might seem preposterous– because, how can  billionaires be in the same category as mom & pop shops?– but this just goes to show that the term of ‘small business’ needs to be redefined.

First, let’s answer the question of whether or not Donald Trump is a small business. CNN has checked the facts and found that some of Trump’s companies would actually qualify because they have fewer than 500 employees, which is how the federal government defines small businesses. Trump himself would also qualify as a small business because he reports business income from his speaking fees and book sales, as the Huffington Post points out. So, yes, it appears that Donald Trump is in fact a small business.

What this really points out is that the threshold for defining small businesses both makes it difficult to measure the impact of very small businesses and clouds the message of what these very small businesses need in order to grow and thrive. These bakeries, auto repair shops, boutiques, restaurants, and other businesses found on Main Streets across the country have very different needs than companies that employ hundreds of workers and bring in millions– or even billions– in revenue.

All shapes and sizes of businesses are needed to have a vibrant and healthy economy. But let’s not lump them all together and advocate as if they’re all the same. Let’s make sure we understand what is needed to support and encourage entrepreneurship at all levels.

Entry filed under: Economic Development, Economy, Small Business. Tags: , .

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