Judging The Small Business Influencers

For the 3rd time in 2 years, I’ve been appointed to be a Judge.

The fact that I’ve been chosen more than once has been a source of amazement for my family members, considering the fact that a simple Google search of my background reveals that I’ve never even attended law school. So much for vetting.

My first appointment as Judge involved email marketing, and the 2nd one involved a franchise.  Both times, I felt completely confident with the decisions I rendered. I even received several letters complimenting me on my judiciary expertise. Go figure.

So, unless the Judiciary Police catch up with me before I judge the Small Business Influencers Award, I’ll get to render yet another decision. Hopefully, no one will tip them off.

I’m thinking that one of the reasons that I was chosen to Judge this Small Business initiative is because Anita Campbell and Ramon Ray, (the folks who came up with this cool idea) know about my unbridled passion for all things related to small business. I love discussing its many variants, (like franchising). I love the fact that small business is a serious job creator. The other judges are just as passionate.

The other possible reason is one that sometimes causes friction … at work, and at home; my straightforwardness. I’m blunt. I speak my mind, stick to my guns, and let the chips fall where they may. You’ll never have to guess what my position is on something, and I consider that to be not only a time-saving tool for people that want to get to know me, but also an important prerequisite to become a judge.

In all seriousness, I really consider this to be an honor to get to be involved in a small business initiative of this caliber. I get to see this unfold from my judge’s chair. I happen to know lots of people that are really, really influential in small business, and it’s going to be great to see some of them get the recognition they deserve. But, I don’t know who all the small business influencers are, and being a judge will allow me to learn about some of the ones that I’m not familiar with.

The timing of this initiative couldn’t be better; the role of small business as it relates to our nation’s economy has really been front and center of late. For example, to start out National Small Business Week this year, President Obama made the following proclamation:

“From the family businesses that anchor Main Street to the high-tech startups that keep America on the cutting edge, small businesses are the backbone of our economy and the cornerstones of America’s promise.”

Other Presidents have realized the important role that small business plays in our economy, too. In a 1988 speech to students at Moscow University, President Ronald Reagan said that, “Entrepreneurs and their small enterprises are responsible for almost all the economic growth in the United States.”

Hearing speeches about the importance of small business is one thing; it’s quite another to read actual data that supports them . Allow me to share the following, courtesy of the *U.S Small Business Administration:

Small firms:

•    Represent 99.7 percent of all employer firms.

•    Employ half of all private sector employees.

•    Pay 44 percent of total U.S. private payroll.

•    Generated 65 percent of net new jobs over the past 17 years.

•    Create more than half of the nonfarm private GDP.

•    Hire 43 percent of high tech workers (scientists, engineers, computer programmers, and others).

•    Are 52 percent home-based and 2 percent franchises.

•    Made up 97.5 percent of all identified exporters and produced 31 percent of export value in FY 2008.

•    Produce 13 times more patents per employee than large patenting firms.

*Source: U.S. Dept. of Commerce, Census Bureau and Intl. Trade Admin.; Advocacy-funded research by Kathryn Kobe, 2007  and CHI Research, 2003; U.S. Dept. of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.

As you can plainly see, small business greatly impacts our economy. It’s just that not everyone knows  how important it is for us to have a thriving small business community,  and we could always use a few more advocates to help get the message out, especially during down cycles in the economy.

One way to get the message out is to participate in this initiative by helping recognize the Small Business Influencers who you feel have made meaningful and lasting impacts on the North American small business market. All you have to do is nominate them by July 8th, at 11:59 pm Los Angeles time. Voting will commence shortly afterwards. Find out all the details over at http://influencers.smallbiztrends.com/how-it-works.

To date, there have been 287 nominations published; and thousands of tweets on Twitter.

If you believe in the power of small business, please join Small Business Trends and SmallBizTechnology.com who have teamed up, with the generous sponsorship of Blackberry, to create the Small Business Influencer Awards. Help pick the Top 100 Small Business Influencers.

Joel Libava Joel Libava is the Franchise Expert for Small Business Trends. Joel, The Franchise King®, equips today’s prospective franchise owners with time-tested, proven techniques designed to increase odds of success. He does this through one-on-one coaching, and gobs of useful content that can be found on places like Small Business Trends, SBA.Gov, and his award-winning franchise blog, The Franchise King Blog . He’s been featured in Entrepreneur® magazine, and is frequently called upon by national media outlets and publications for his no-spin insights into the world of franchising.