A New Year of Economic and Political Change: What Small Businesses are Saying and What We’re Doing about It

Reading time: 4 mins reading time

By Nancy Harris, EVP, Sage North America

As we embrace 2017, there are a few notable events taking place in January that will shape the future of our economy and the small business landscape.

World leaders, government delegates and the business elite descend on the snowy slopes of Davos in Switzerland for the World Economic Forum (WEF) this week. In addition, the United States will swear in a new president that has a new agenda and a different set of priorities than in 2016. The results from each of these major events will undoubtedly dictate the political and economic outcomes throughout the rest of the year, as well as shape the future success of small businesses everywhere.

Earth to Davos – No Small Business Representation

Did you know 60% of small businesses don’t even know what Davos is? Last year at Sage, we had a lot to say about this vital omission, with our CEO Stephen Kelly boycotting the event and calling for the closed doors to open up to the world’s business builders. So far this year, not much seems to have changed. A read of the Davos agenda shows no evidence of the consideration of the everyday issues facing real entrepreneurs – indeed, one of the first sessions at WEF on Tuesday 17th is titled ‘Size matters: The Future of Big Business.’  That speaks volumes.

What Small Businesses Really Think

Sage recently carried out a global research project to shed new light on the extent to which start-ups and small businesses feel left out by political and economic decision-makers.

The results? A startling 67% of SMB survey participants cited that they felt their concerns were underrepresented by politicians. Governments, of course, have amazing potential to support the growth ambitions of entrepreneurs – and they often do. In a year following global shocks from the Brexit vote to the revelation of a new U.S. president, entrepreneurs need government support now more than ever.

In fact, in the United States, our recent SMB survey reveals the two biggest challenges for small businesses in 2017 are:

  • Tax rates/tax relief for businesses
  • Too much government bureaucracy and legislation

Business builders aren’t spending time complaining or stopping in their tracks – they can’t afford to; they have dreams to build. Today’s small business owners are marching on, and our survey reveals there’s much to be hopeful about. 34% of small businesses globally say they are planning to launch a new product or service in the next 12 months.

Here’s what U.S. small businesses are planning in 2017:

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Announcing Our Sage Forum for Business Builders

In this spirit of optimism and action, we aren’t content to merely call out what leaders are doing wrong at WEF or declare that more SMB representation is needed among the political environment.  I’m pleased to announce that today, we are launching the Sage Forum for Business Builders to empower entrepreneurs in 2017.

The Sage Forum is a platform that enables business builders around the world to have a stronger say among decision makers and leaders around issues that impact their ability to succeed. The Forum brings together insights, research, reports, regional events and policy-forming partnerships on one digital platform, providing the tools necessary to give entrepreneurs a powerful collective voice that can be heard on the world stage.

The Forum will also include additional research around key issues that impact the small business community. In addition, the Forum will support in-person and virtual debates that bring entrepreneurs and top decision-makers around the world into one room to discuss issues and bring about real change. Most importantly, we envision the Forum launching campaigns to enact change. We look forward to working with political decision makers to ignite this change.

In sum, to the entrepreneurs who feel their voices are simply not heard or they lack the right influence to educate decision makers on what really matters to small businesses – we are, and will continue to be, firmly in your corner.

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