May 3 2021

Fortune: Tech entrepreneurs grab the headlines, but COVID relief should target grass-roots small businesses

With the fate of many small businesses remaining up in the air, after over a year of Covid related restrictions and challenges, my New Builders co-author, Elizabeth MacBride and I just authored a piece for Fortune that talks about the importance of saving America’s more Main Street businesses. We titled it Tech entrepreneurs grab the headlines, but COVID relief should target grass-roots small businesses I hope you’ll check it out.

Carmen Portillo and Priscilla Williams of Cocoa Belle Chocolates

The article talks about the importance of small business and tells the story of one New Builder – Carmen Portillo – who is the first certified chocolatier in the state of Arkansas. We tell Carmen’s story in more depth in the book, but the highlights are important to add texture and color to the debate around why small businesses are so important to our economy and to our communities. Small businesses are critically important to our overall economy. Together, small businesses employ nearly half the labor force and generate nearly 40% of annual GDP. They also provide a certain connection to their communities that is both hard to put into words, but impossible to replace. But there is a huge disconnect between today’s entrepreneurs and the largely white men who control our systems of finance (and whose energies focus on high growth companies and hunting unicorns). Some 80% of small businesses don’t receive any formalize form of financing as they get their start (either from venture capital or similar sources, or from a bank).

The Covid crisis put an entirely new angle on what was already a growing problem for America’s Main Street entrepreneurs and we knew it would be important to capture the true impact of the pandemic on our nation’s small businesses. The fast growth promised by tech is mostly an illusion, because it’s narrow. We need a broad-based recovery, not one that only boosts a handful of companies.

I hope you’ll check out the full Fortune article and, if you’d like to learn how we can solve problems facing today’s small businesses, pick up a copy of The New Builders – it’s available tomorrow, May 4th.