In the President's words:
'I campaigned on the promise of change, change we can believe in, the slogan went. And right now, I know there are many Americans who aren't sure if they still believe we can change, or that I can deliver it. But remember this: I never suggested that change would be easy or that I could do it alone. Democracy in a nation of 300 million people can be noisy and messy and complicated. And when you try to do big things and make big changes, it stirs passions and controversy. That's just how it is.'
This message of collective action and responsibility was not lost on the small business community.
In this article, published by Allbusiness.com - '*Attack, Don't Wait for Uncle Sam's Helping Hand' - small business expert and fellow Business.gov blogger, Rieva Lesonsky outlined the President's proposals for small business', she also called for a renewed entrepreneurial imperative:
'...we entrepreneurs cannot sit around hoping the government will make good on its promises...General George Patton once advised,;Opportunities do not come to those who wait. They are captured by those who attack'....and, if you are the owner of the business...that proverbial buck stops with you.'
Planning for Growth: Equip and Arm Yourself Now
So what can small business owners do to plan for recovery and growth?
Touching on the key points of President Obama's address, I've compiled a snapshot of some of the existing government programs, resources and tools that you can put to work for your business today!
1) Small Business Finance and Lending
Recognizing that small business is key to economic recovery, the President pledged to'... take $30 billion of the money Wall Street banks have repaid and use it to help community banks give small businesses the credit they need to stay afloat.'
Keep an eye on this one in the coming weeks as more details about this and other pledges, such as the proposed $5,000 tax credit for small business who hire new employees are unveiled.
In the meantime, take the time to assess the state of your business and take a look at these business planning guides from Business.gov to determine what you can do to give your business a boost in the short-term.
From a financial perspective, many of the Recovery Act loan programs introduced last year are still available for small business owners struggling with debt, read 'Managing Small Business Debt - Government Loans and Refinancing Lifelines' for more information.
Planning for the future? Take a look at these small business loans and grants resources, including this loans and grants search tool which can help match your business needs to available government loan programs as well as prepare your loan application.
2) We Need to Export More
Pre-empting an upcoming announcement about a 'National Export Initiative' that will help farmers and small businesses increase exports and expand into new markets, the President has pledged to '... double our exports over the next five years.'
If you see exporting in your future, take a look at this 'Get Started in Exporting Guide' from Business.gov - it includes videos from experienced 'exporting entrepreneurs' as well as information on export basics, finding opportunities and navigating trade regulations.
3) A Clean Energy Economy
'...to create more...clean energy jobs, we need more production, more efficiency, and more incentives.' How does small business fit into the President's vision of a clean energy economy?
The imperative isn't just on oil companies and energy giants, small business can participate in a number of ways.
- Make your business more energy efficient - This Small Business Guide to Energy Efficiency explains the benefits and shows you how.
- Investigate whether you qualify for environmental grants, loans and incentives to pay for energy efficient upgrades to your facilities, environment-related projects and improvements, tax-credits and more.
- Participate in 'green' product development and innovation - Many forms of government financing and incentives exist for 'green' R&D. Learn more about Green Technology Innovation, Servicizing and Take Back Programs for small business.
This is just the tip of the iceberg, read more from the government on how your business can adopt green business practices.
President Obama's State of the Union Address - Read key points from the President's address in this abbreviated version from The White House blog.
- Surviving the Recession and Planning for a Rebound - How Small Businesses are Doing It!
- Taking Stock of the Business Year - How to Conduct a Year-End Review & Plan for the Year Ahead
- Grants & Loans: Break Through the Myths & Find the Right Financing for Your Needs
- Tips for Getting Your Small Business Loan Request Approved (Even in Today's Economy)
- Managing Small Business Debt - Government Loans and Refinancing Lifelines
- The Recovery Act: SBA Loans and Your Small Business
- National Small Business Week Shines Spotlight on New Interest Free SBA ARC Loan
- A Small Business Guide to Exporting: Part 1 - Getting Started and Part 2 - Getting Financing
- New Export Resource Features Industry- and Region-Specific Opportunities
- Financing the 'Greening' of Your Small Businesses
- Greening Your Home-Based Business - Saving $, Saving the Environment, and Building your Brand
- Green Commuting Options - From Teleworking Programs to Transit and Ride Share Tax Incentives
- Changing the Construction Landscape - Become a Green Building Leader
- Greening Your Small Business: Go Beyond the Hype with a Plan that Works for You
- ARRA and a Green America: Understanding The Small Business Opportunity
*Note: Hyperlink directs reader to non-government Web site.