small business week

State of Small Business 2016

By Rieva Lesonsky

Today we kick off National Small Business Week. All week we’ll be bringing you special NSBW content. The theme of NSBW is “Dream Big, Start Small,” (#DreamSmallBiz on social media). Some may balk at the theme, but I think it’s especially appropriate—for who dreams more than prospective and current small business owners? And yet for years, people with dreams have been put down—considered less than serious—and in some cases have even been laughed at.

As I’ve said more times than I can count, I’m tired of people putting down dreamers. Over the years I’ve heard countless times, “dreamers only dream, doers do.” That’s obviously wrong—you can’t be a doer, unless first having been a dreamer. Dreams are the stuff entrepreneurs are made of. Without dreamers there’d be no computers, automobiles, airplanes, phones or electric lighting. Without dreams there’d be no point. So don’t let anyone EVER discourage your dreams. And remember as Walt Disney famously said, “If you can dream it, you can do it.”

By the Numbers

So how many people are actually “doing it?” Take a look at the stats, according to the Small Business Administration and the SBA’s Office of Advocacy:

  • There are 28 million small businesses in the U.S.
  • The number of American small businesses has increased 49% since 1982
  • Small businesses account for 54% of all U.S. sales
  • S. small businesses occupy between 30% and 50% of all commercial space—about 20-34 billion square feet
  • 7% of U.S. exporters are small businesses
  • Startups are on the rise again (in the 2nd quarter of 2014, there were more business starts than exits)


  • Small business employ 48% or 56.8 million of all Americans
  • Small businesses provide 55% of all jobs and 66% of all net new jobs since the 1970s
  • Since 1990, big businesses (500 or more employees) eliminated 4 million jobs, while small businesses added 8 million new jobs
  • Through the first three quarters of 2014, small businesses added 1.4 million net new jobs
    • Businesses with 1-49 employees contributed the most to job growth—39% of net new job growth in the first three quarters of 2014 came from business of this size, according to The Bureau of Labor Statistics

Small business owners and entrepreneurs have come through some pretty tough times these last few years, and as these numbers show we’re bouncing back quite nicely and positively impacting the U.S. (and global) economy.

Entrepreneurs are some of the most positive people I’ve ever met. They fight through the bad times, holding on because they are fueled by their dreams. I truly believe what they say about entrepreneurs is true. That we’re a different breed. That we march to the beat of a different drum. That, to paraphrase George Bernard Shaw: “Others see things and say, “Why?” while entrepreneurs dream things that never were and say “Why not?”

Why not, indeed?