Fire up Entrepreneurs with Access to Dollars and Sense

Michelle Benjamin – CEO of Benjamin Enterprises


Since the beginning of the our current economic downturn, politicians, bankers and economists have all made comments about the role that small businesses and entrepreneurs will play in getting the economy back on track. Small businesses, which employ 52% of all workers according to the SBA, will be instrumental in lowering the unemployment rate. Small businesses will grow the local economy. While these comments have continued from outlets across the country, small business owners and entrepreneurs have been cautious in hiring, expanding and in the case of new businesses, starting new businesses. Even though there have been improvements in the availability of capital to these companies, there is still concern over how the sluggish economy will affect them. Add to that a level of uncertainty over how they will be impacted by the Affordable Care Act, and small business growth is in a holding pattern.

What can government do to assist these businesses and business ideas? We are all familiar with the Small Business Administration (SBA) and what it can do for a business, but what else is there? Two studies by Ramana Nanda from the Harvard Business School contain valuable information on environmental effects on entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs in the making (EITM). We have all heard the saying that life is all about who you know and how much money you have. This saying applies to entrepreneurs and EITM’s alike. Nanda’s study found that if an individual works in an environment with other entrepreneurs (even those who have had businesses that failed) they are more likely to start their business and be successful. His study also found that access to capital is one of the most important if not the most important factor in getting a business started.

So how can we combine these elements to make a healthy environment to foster that entrepreneurial spirit? Studies and statistics show that the biggest impact that small businesses have is on their local economy. Taking that into account, the program should be administered at a local (state, county, city or town) level. It could be a federally funded program, but administration at the local level is a must. That takes care of the money portion of the dilemma. Now we have to get these entrepreneurs and EITM’s, in touch with each other. How do we do that? I’m envisioning a “Shark Tank”, where Entrepreneurs and EITM’s pitch their ideas to established local business owners. If the business owners like what they see and hear, they would recommend that the entrepreneurs be eligible for government dollars to help make their dream a reality. In addition, these business owners would be available to invest in the idea or to assist in mentoring these entrepreneurs and EITM’s in the right direction.

That handles both the funds and the access to business expertise to allow these businesses a chance to succeed. By bringing these two important components to a business’ success together, we could expect the entrepreneurial spirit to thrive and burn brightly in America for years to come.

Michelle Benjamin is the Founder and CEO of Benjamin Enterprises, a Workforce Solutions and Training & Development Provider. She can be reached at 800.677.2532 or