Who is "Small Business Owners?"

Pardon me, but there is no "small business owners" group. We, the people who run the so-called "small" businesses, are a bunch of wildly diverse people with very little in common. We don’t vote as a block, we don’t do things as a block, and we don’t think as a block. As a matter of fact, I’ll bet we’re more diverse than most of the artificial groups that pollsters glue together.

In recent news:

San Francisco May 27, 2008 Small business owner optimism continues on a five-quarter decline, according to the recent Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index (Index) survey conducted in April. The Index score dropped to 48, the lowest level reported since the surveys inception in August 2003, when the score was 69. The most recent results represent a 35-point drop from the previous survey in January 2008, and a 66-point drop from the Index’s highest score of 114 in December 2006.

This is interesting news, but hardly surprising. And, getting to the point of this post, I’d bet you could poll any group — home owners, adults, butchers, bakers, left-handed gardeners, renters, automobile owners, college students, retired people — and get roughly the same outcome.

I enjoy the use of language too. Did you notice in this press release that it isn’t pessimism increasing, but rather optimism declining?

For about six months now I’ve been trying to post on a small business angle to the 2008 presidential race, but I just don’t see how small business owners come together as a group on anything. Who is the small business candidate, now that the race is down to two main candidates: Barack Obama or John McCain? I don’t think their politics or your business ownership dictates that. I think small business owners vote like anybody else, according to their very distinct and heterogeneous views of the world. 

For example, most of the pundits seem to assume that small business owners are against taxes and spending, against any law regulating the relationship with employees, and against any increase in minimum wages. Do you think that’s true? I don’t. I think the politics of any specific small business owner depends a lot more on her politics than on her business.

I’m a small business owner, and my optimism or pessimism, and my politics, aren’t a function of my business; it’s about who I am, and what I think, and how I vote. And I don’t vote for my business; I vote for myself. From what I’ve seen in more than 30 years as a business owner, other owners do the same thing.

I think we are not a group. We don’t have group opinions, or group politics. We are a lot of individuals. What do you think?

(note: I posted this a few hours ago on Small Business Trends. I’m reposting it here on this blog for my subscribers’ convenience.) 


  • Kendall says:

    We are definitely not a group. Many of my "small business owner" friends vote differently than I vote. We do have many things in common, like worrying, perfecting ourselves, and pouring our hearts and minds into our businesses.

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