Can NFIB Members Save American Entrepreneurship?
SMALL BUSINESS FIRST - MAY/JUNE 2013
Seventy years ago this May, C. Wilson Harder founded what he called the National Federation of Small Business. Harder had been working for the National Chamber of Commerce, and he felt that the Chamber’s structure left small businesses behind—or at least a distant second to large corporations.
Harder was also concerned, as he watched young men leave to fight in World War II, about what jobs would be available for those heroes when they came home. He worried the war machine would lead to monopolies, stifling small businesses and the professional opportunities that came with them.
The name of the organization may have since changed, but from Harder’s vision grew the nation’s No. 1 small business association, the National Federation of Independent Business. No other group can compare: NFIB has more members and more clout than any other small business organization in history.
I hope that you will take a moment this month to feel pride in belonging to an association with a rich history.
As we watch young people graduate this spring, I have concerns similar to Harder’s: What jobs will be available to our children and grandchildren? Will they have the opportunity to be entrepreneurs, or is America set on a path that discourages risk-taking and only encourages the growth of big government, big business and big labor?
In NFIB’s Small Business Economic Trends survey, we see historic, persistent pessimism. Many of you have told us that, if faced with starting your business today, in the current economic and political environment, you wouldn’t. Your sense is that the environment for risk-taking and opportunity has changed fundamentally. This is very bad news for the U.S. economy and future generations.
While it is extremely difficult to make a major impact on macroeconomic and political trends, there is always one thing that each of us can influence: the next generation. Consider taking time this month to honor the 70th anniversary of NFIB and mentor the young people in your life. Bring them to your place of business, show them how it runs and the impact it has on people’s lives through jobs, goods and services. Encourage them to consider starting their own business someday. Let them know there is no greater professional reward than being your own boss. Show them that risk can be a good thing.
If each NFIB member can inspire just one young entrepreneur to resist the cultural trend that threatens to destroy the great American tenet of entrepreneurship, maybe we can change some of those negative trend lines. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate our 70th birthday.