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Small Business Update: An Interview With Suzanne Clark
CO 622X415 CLARK

In the current economy, seasoned business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs alike are exploring new avenues for growth. The rise of technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and e-commerce platforms means there are more opportunities than ever to enter the small business arena. However, this burst of possibilities has also brought about new issues impacting small business owners nationwide.

During our most recent Small Business Update, CO— Editor-in-Chief Jeanette Mulvey sat down with U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and Chief Executive Officer Suzanne Clark to discuss the current small business landscape and other topics, including:

  • Clark reflecting on her past experiences as an entrepreneur;
  • Common issues impacting small business owners today, which include economic fears, access to capital, and a sense of risk; and
  • How the U.S. Chamber is supporting small businesses every day with a variety of initiatives and programs.

Facing fears to overcome business challenges

Small business owners are many things — creative, problem-solvers, good listeners, and brave, according to Clark. However, with the economy in flux, many fear the impacts of a recession — even if they find themselves headed toward a profitable year.

“We… see a lot of fears about a recession, and we see fear about what we call ‘secondhand pessimism,’” Clark explained. “People will talk about how they think their business is going to grow, but they’re worried about the overall economy. Seventy-six percent of small businesses were worried about access to capital because of interest rates and because of banking regulations getting tighter.”

On top of economic fears, small business owners constantly battle a sense of risk. Clark noted that entrepreneurs face the inherent uncertainty of owning their own company, as they risk their name and brand, as well as their own capital, while often earning less than an employee at a big company would.

[Read More: How Much Should You Pay Yourself? Here’s How to Calculate a Business Owner’s Salary]

How the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is paving the way for small businesses

As a former small business owner herself, Clark has learned from her mistakes.

Clark recounted how overestimating the costs of outsourcing stopped her from taking advantage of services, such as outsourced payroll processing. Believing that her business could not afford to implement outsourcing strategies, Clark shied away from the opportunity and instead handled those tasks in-house, taking up valuable time and resources.

Recognizing her mistake, Clark now advises small business owners to find an outsourcing partner who can handle complex tasks. Since it is crucial to find a partner who is trustworthy and reliable, Clark recommends exploring the Chamber’s resources to find the right partner or network.

“Our work is a combination … of offense — let’s open markets, … get the government to do the things it can do, [and] address the worker shortage — and defense — not [raising] taxes [or implementing] onerous regulations that keep businesses from being able to start and grow and innovate and solve problems,” Clark said.

[Read More: An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Outsourcing]

If you look at everything from who sponsors the little league team to who’s there at the hospital, it’s small businesses. It’s the local pizza shop. It’s the local florist. The way that businesses and business leaders are woven into their communities is such an important thing and so much more appreciated than [they] might realize.

Suzanne Clark, President and CEO, U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Small businesses, big impact

Business owners are often too busy handling operations to see their overall impact. This may leave them feeling like they aren’t making significant progress in their business and community, especially compared to larger enterprises.

However, according to Clark, small businesses are far more integral to the growth of local communities and larger businesses than one may realize: They account for 97% of exporters and are often vendors for, and customers to, big businesses.

“Every time … you’re creating [a] job, you have that broader impact,” Clark said. “You are no doubt providing a service or a product that didn’t exist or wasn’t as good without you. [T]he hole … in people’s lives [without your business] is much bigger than you think it is.”

Clark also noted that big businesses are teaming up with smaller ones to support and aid in mutual growth, including the Chamber’s Prompt Pay Pledge. Under this pledge, businesses like JP Morgan to Siemens commit to shorter payment terms for small businesses “to help them stay alive in a really complicated time” and meet their faster cash flow needs, she said.

In addition to the Prompt Pay Pledge, the Chamber provides advocacy work for small businesses and offers many programs, grants, and networking opportunities designed to benefit the small business owners that are ingrained in local communities across America.

“If you look at everything from who sponsors the little league team to who’s there at the hospital, it’s small businesses,” she said. “It’s the local pizza shop. It’s the local florist. The way that businesses and business leaders are woven into their communities is such an important thing and so much more appreciated than [they] might realize.”

[Read More: Free Grants and Programs for Small Business]

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.


Miranda Fraraccio

This post was originally published on this site

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