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Friday, June 27, 2008

Confidence in Small Business Tops Gallup Poll

by BusinessTrends Guest: Thomas M. Sullivan

There is great uncertainty in Washington. How can we lower gas prices? Who will occupy the White House next year? Is our country safe? One certainty is that every morning we will be inundated with polls. There are weekly polls on political races, quarterly polls on employer confidence and business optimism (or pessimism), and annual surveys of public confidence. If I read all the news stories on polling results every morning, it could prevent me from actually putting down my coffee and leaving the house to go to work.

Last week, Gallup published its annual survey of public confidence in U.S. institutions. Despite my reluctance to dig into polls, I am pleased that the results show an incredible confidence in small business. Small business ranks high in the eyes of the American public, above courts, schools, and news organizations. Confidence in small business is close to the overwhelming support Americans place in our military and even exceeds that of the police and our places of worship.

However, I am not surprised. My job is to document the importance of small business to our communities and economy. Research from my office shows that small employers create almost all the net new jobs coming out of recessions and they innovate at 13 times the rate of big business. The Gallup poll documents what occurs outside of hard data: entrepreneurship can be a pathway to the American Dream. Heroes for small business extend from the largest computer company in the world that was started in a garage to a local grocery store whose owner knows every customer by name.

As Congress leaves Washington to help America celebrate its independence, political leaders should take note of one poll that is worth examining closely. Congress ranked lowest in Gallup’s survey and small business ranked near the top. America’s confidence in small business is coupled with the insistence that Washington must be sensitive to how laws, monetary policy, and regulations impact small business. When it comes to the price of gas at the pump, common sense regulation, the cost of health care, and keeping taxes low to stimulate entrepreneurship, Congress can regain our confidence by thinking about small business first.

Thomas M. Sullivan is the Chief Counsel for Advocacy at the U.S. Small Business Administration. Information on small business is available at

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