I’ve always considered administrator at the Small Business Administration one of my dream jobs. Think how that person can make such a big impact on so many small business owners.
On the Small Business Radio Show this week, Karen Mills gives an inside look at how to have an impact on so many entrepreneurs. Karen holds the distinction of serving as former Head Administrator at the US Small Business Administration (SBA). In that capacity she also served as a member of President Obama’s cabinet. She also discusses her new book, “Fintech: Small Business and the American Dream”.
Karen says best part of the job was being responsible for all 30 million small businesses. (They create half of America’s jobs!) She also took responsible for helping the nation’s entrepreneurs. (And, of course, she loved “flying on Air Force One”!) Unfortunately, she emphasizes that “everybody loves small business, but not everyone does something about it”. Karen was appointed as Head Administrator at the SBA at the beginning of the Great Recession in 2009. She highlights that 1.8M small business jobs had been eliminated and good businesses lost their bank credit lines.
Karen says she convinced Larry Summers at the National Economic Council to raise the SBA guarantee loan rate to 90% for banks and small businesses. This reduced the risks for banks and produced $100B in loans to companies (and saved lots of jobs). She points out that these loans cost taxpayer’s nothing; the SBA recovery rate is over 95% and the interest collected more than pays for any losses.
In her book, Karen forecasts a transformation in small business loans. It has been hard historically because each small business is so different and it’s difficult to tell what’s really going on inside each company. This caused banks to take months to make decisions. But now, big data and artificial intelligence have the power to take away these barriers and ease cash lending. A lot of new lenders like Kabbage and Fundbox have already made loans to small business instantly at higher rates than banks.
SBA Lending in 2019 and Beyond
Karen believes many banks have “woke up” and want to get back in the lending business since they already have customers and deposits. She predicts banks will use technology and their data to give loans in real time at lower rates than current lenders. This will also allow small business owners to get advice from banks and not just their money.
Karen says that the “winners will be the small business owner since they will have more choices and an easier customer experience”. Listen to the entire episode on the Small Business Radio Show.
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It is important to understand how this works especially if you are just starting your business.
Who is she kidding? For Karen Mills to say is “responsible’ for our nations small businesses is the height of arrogance. The SBA interacts with a very small percent of small businesses and only to regulate as opposed to aid or promote. SBA lending is a bureaucratic nightmare and most small businesses get a better deal from a commercial bank than deal with the endless red tape associated with the SBA. Karen Mills did little as the SBA administrator but she’s no different than another administrator past or present. Most of them never built a small business from the ground up especially Karen Mills. Small business in America succeeds in spite of the SBA, not because of it.