WHAT EXACTLY IS A "SMALL BUSINESS?"

Written By; By Marcel F. Schaerer, Deputy Director, Department of Business and Industry



I grew up witnessing both my mother and father prosper as small business owners. The exposure to family business throughout my child-hood led me to a great deal of admiration for small business owners and entrepreneurs. I saw my mom, a single mother of four children, working in her party rental business every single day of the week except Sunday afternoons. As a teenager, I remember watching my dad develop and cultivate relationships when running his bakery. I gained invaluable practical exposure to business operations as well as learning the importance of hard work, consistency and reliability. As an adult, I followed my parent’s entrepreneurial path and founded a workforce consulting and training firm with my wife Sylvia in 1996. Small business is in my blood and it continues to play a significant role in my professional life today.


Today, there are an increasing number of people and organizations throughout Nevada focused on helping the small business sector. Growth and development of small business is also a priority for Governor Steve Sisolak. Since taking office, he and his administration have signaled that small businesses have a big part in the future of Nevada’s continued economic expansion and success.


But, what exactly do we mean by a “small business?” It’s a commonly used phrase, but there typically isn’t a one-size-fits-all definition. Depending on the context and the person using it, small business means different things to different people. Here are a few different answers to help us understand what individuals may be thinking when they refer to a small business:


  • A wide variety of service and retail operations, as well as internet-related businesses, employing 5 to 10 people

  • Small or medium-size manufacturers that employ 200-250 people

  • Concepts and terms such as self-employed, entrepreneur, and startup enterprises

  • The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) generally defines it as firms with fewer than 500 employees varying in size by industry, legal structure, revenues and regulatory requirements

  • Nevada Revised Statue 233B.0382 defines small business as a business conducted for profit which employs few-er than 150 full-time or part-time employees


Even though definitions and concepts can get a bit confusing, this essential sector is a big deal not only for the U.S. but also the Nevada economy. According to the SBA’s 2019 Small Business Profile for Nevada, 270,079 or 99.2% of all firms in Nevada are small businesses.


Small businesses indeed provide vital and innovative services and products, generate sales tax revenue and create thousands of great jobs in our communities. The size of small business also matters because it means opportunity to access free assistance, secure low-interest loans, receive government certification and contracts, and tap into certain benefits such as tax breaks.


I once read, "Small business is what you make of it." This short mantra conjures powerful images of the positive attributes of the people behind these endeavors, regardless of the number of employees. Here are a few essential ones that come to mind:


  • Imagination to address and solve needs

  • Passion and confidence to build something great

  • Tenacity and resilience to make dreams a reality

  • Willingness to work much, much harder

  • Successful because of open minds, working hands, and caring hearts


What attributes of small business owners come to your mind that could be added to that list?


What I know with a high degree of certainty from our work and mission at the Department of Business & Industry, is that small businesses have a lot of needs. They need help in many different areas. They need help in planning, help with software, networking, training, licensing, location, legal structure, funding, taxes, certifications, marketing, hiring people, avoiding costly mistakes, and many others.


However, they don't have to do it alone. As I mentioned before, a great group of people and organizations exist to help folks with mentoring and specific needs. The Guide to Starting and Growing a Business in Nevada is a comprehensive resource that connects small businesses and entrepreneurs to information, organizations, tools and assistance.


To explore the roadmap to small business, success visit the Department of Business and Industry website at http://business.nv.gov, go to "Business Resource Center" on the menu and click on "Nevada Business Startup Guide."


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