Preface: Leveling the Playing Field for the “Other 99 Percent”

One in five small businesses fail within their first year. One in two go out of business within five years. In 2020, that rate was even higher (Hannon 2020).

These aren't nameless, faceless statistics. Small businesses are the manifestation of the American dream. Ninety‐nine percent of all businesses in the United States are “small” as defined by the Small Business Association's definition of employing 500 people or fewer. They're also the lifeblood of the US economy. Thirty‐two million small businesses employ 47 percent of the US workforce, about 60 million people. And they have contributed 66 percent of all new jobs since 2000 (SBA Office of Advocacy 2018).

The good news is that even in the dire economic realities of the COVID‐19 pandemic and globalization, small businesses in America are getting stronger. Although the average lifespan of a small business is 8.5 years, the failure rate (percent of year‐over‐year failures) is actually shrinking (Todd 2020).

Why? Small organizations are typically more creative. They're more in tune with their customers. They can move faster, and are more nimble. They have a better finger on the pulse of their employees. And now, they have newfound access to services, tools, and technology that let them do more—much more—with less. They're using these tools to better operationalize and automate their business processes. They're using these tools to turn adversity into advantage. ...

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