Big is Not Small

Help stop the SBA madness.

I’ve never used my blog to directly advocate for an issue, but the SBA’s long-term focus on big business has moved from absurd to something there is no word for. I don’t want more handouts. I just want them to stop giving them to big businesses, and expanding to include even more big businesses to give handouts to. Help us stop it.

The SBA lost its way at its inception in 1953 when politicians bowing to big business interests defined “small” as any business with fewer than 500 employees. That is 99.9% of all businesses, a ludicrous and meaningless description of small. This happened because big businesses lobbying their politician wanted to make sure they didn’t get left out of the handouts. As a result, the SBA focuses almost all of its attention on larger businesses from 100-500 employees. Only 17,000 of the 28 million businesses don’t qualify!

They are now expanding the definition to include 9,450 of those 17,000, because large businesses with 400-500+ employees are once again growing huge and don’t want to be left out of the handouts that were set up to encourage small businesses to compete against the Bigs.

We can stop this nonsense. What can you do? Go to the SBA site here and submit the following objection, or your own. They must post them publicly and enough complaints will get their attention and require a response.

Rasmussen (a polling company) says the traditional three classes in America – rich, middle class and poor, have now been replaced by only two – The Ruling Elite, and everyone else. We have become a nation ruled by the Bigs who have completely lost touch with who they exist to serve.

But in the Participation Age we are now in, you can make a difference. Go to the SBA site and let them know a “small” business has fewer than 20 employees, and to stop expanding to serve their big business cronies.

Copy the following, fill in the contact info on the SBA site here, and paste the following or your own objection. Let’s begin to create a voice for small business at the table of the Bigs.


The existing SBA definition of “small” includes 28 million out of 28 million businesses (only 17,000 are left out). It’s like saying all people less than 7’ tall are “short”. Your continuing expansions move it to 7 1/2’ tall people.

How can you claim to serve small business when you include 99.9% of all businesses, and want to increase that to 99.95%? No understanding of “small” justifies these increases, and only goes to demonstrate that the SBA does not have a focus on small business.

In 2009 Australia passed the Fair Trade Act that formally defined “small” as “under 15 employees”. Even that would still include over 80% of all businesses in America, but would be a much more realistic definition of “small”.

I hereby formally request that you defend your definition of “small” against the commonly held understanding of the word “small”, and either
a) Reduce the standards by nearly 2500% (from 500 employees to 20) to reflect a realistic understanding of small, or
b) Rename yourself the Mid-to-Large Size Business Administration (MLSBA).

See the Miriam Webster definition of “small”:
1 having comparatively little size or slight dimensions
2 a: minor in influence, power, or rank b : operating on a limited scale
3 lacking in strength – a small voice
4 a: little or close to zero in an objectively measurable aspect (as quantity) b: made up of few or little units

  1. How does “comparatively little” describe 99.9% of all businesses?
  2. How does 99.9% reflect “minor in influence, power or rank?
  3. How is 100-500 employees “lacking in strength” when compared to the 80%+ businesses with fewer than 10-15 employees?
  4. How is 28 million out of 28 million “little or close to zero”, or “made up of few or little units”?

I look forward to your formal public reply.

Gandhi – “Anyone who thinks they are too small to make a difference has never gone to bed with a mosquito”.

Thanks for making a difference!

Education Is Not Important For Success

Learning is not education.

Sitting in a hotel lobby in Martinborough, New Zealand after a bike ride, two professors from Vancouver asked me if I thought education was important for success. They hit my hot button. If, like the old saying goes, knowledge is power, then librarians would rule the world. They don’t. Something else is more correlated to success than education.

Millions of higher degree recipients make less during their careers than people who dropped out of high school. And millions who never finished high school make huge impacts and a lot of money.

We miss cause and effect all the time. As an example, people love to say, “College graduates make a million dollars more in their lifetime than non-college graduates.” Is it because they went to school, or because they are motivated to do anything that will make them successful? I think it’s the latter.

If they were told they needed to apprentice with a businessperson they would do that instead of getting an MBA (that would be my advice). They are motivated and committed, and will do whatever they have to in order to be successful.

There is some clear correlation between education in the hard sciences (pharmaceuticals, engineering, plumbing, etc.) and success. If you violate hydrology ($%@* flows downhill), you’ll make a lousy plumber. But there is little correlation in the soft sciences. People build committed communities all the time without ever taking a sociology course. Others help people get past their bad habits without ever taking a psychology course.

Business is one of the soft sciences where education is least correlated with success. Dropouts from college (or people who never went) start hugely successful companies all the time. “Is college necessary?” is becoming a mainstream question.

What makes business owners successful? According to research, education doesn’t show up in the top five. (Entrepreneurial Intuition, an Empirical Approach, La Pira, April 2010), but these do:

  1. Seeing the big picture – being a visionary is most important. If you can’t see it, you won’t shoot for it.
  2. Speed of Execution – taking action while others are researching.
  3. Never giving up; being the bull dog; finding a way to make it work.
  4. Being a life-long learner.

Learning is massively different than being educated. Education fills our heads with information, while learning transforms our lives and the world around us with grounded and applied intelligence.

If you want to have your head filled with facts, get an education. It you want to learn, change lives and/or make money, you’re better off apprenticing with someone who’s done it. They won’t try to educate you, they’ll just make sure you are effective and becoming something you aren’t, yet.

The Greeks were wrong.

We don’t think our way to a new way of acting; we act our way to a new way of thinking.

Go do something with someone who’s already done it; and learn from their experience.

The Vancouver professor’s responses? “Check, please.”