Government programs are an essential resource for small business owners looking for greater success. Tom Sullivan, vice president of small business policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, joins host Jim Fitzpatrick on The Small Business Show to offer an exclusive update on the chamber’s initiatives and how it is connecting entrepreneurs with exciting new opportunities.
The chamber represents more than 3 million companies in the U.S., over 90% of which are small businesses. “Our position allows us to convene larger businesses and smaller businesses together,” Sullivan states. “So we really try to focus on those issues and initiatives that help the entire business ecosystem.” Ensuring all entrepreneurs have a voice is the department’s primary goal.
Earlier this month, the chamber celebrated National Small Business Week in partnership with the Small Business Administration, recognizing successful entrepreneurs for their innovation and community support. During this week, Sullivan notes that the Prompt Play Pledge program was launched to reward larger companies for paying their smaller suppliers faster. “Really a very simple commitment which would make an incredible difference,” he remarks, “a win-win situation.” Not only do participating enterprises help lessen the economic pressures on entrepreneurs, but they also become a much more attractive client to potential partners.
This initiative is especially timely, given the economy’s current uncertainty. Not only has a banking crisis made it more difficult for small businesses to obtain credit, but inflation also remains a top concern for owners and consumers alike. “When your sales revenues are good…but they’re not outpacing inflation, we’ve gotta look for other ways to free up capital,” explains Sullivan. The Prompt Play Pledge initiative provides a path toward lightening the burden entrepreneurs face in the post-pandemic market.
To make the pledge, all corporations must do is sign an online form, after which their commitment will be published. Since its launch, the program has received applicants from major corporations such as JPMorgan Chase, Accion Opportunity Fund and Intuit, a trend that Sullivan notes has convinced a wider audience of company leaders to rethink their policies. Entrepreneurs have also discovered new resources and guidance through the initiative, learning valuable techniques such as discount incentives to encourage their clients to make faster payments. “We’re gonna keep our foot on the gas all year round, and I’m excited about the snowball effect that is happening and ultimately will benefit small business suppliers and vendors.
Another way the chamber is advancing the interests of small business owners is through its America’s Top Small Business Award, also launched during Small Business Week. Applications for the program will be accepted through July 7, from which finalists will be chosen for each of the seven regions in the U.S. These companies will then travel to Washington D.C. in the fall, where they will compete for their chance to win $25,000. To qualify, participating enterprises must employ less than 250 people or earn less than $20 million in annual revenue. Applicants are prompted to write about their business’s success, overcoming obstacles and why they believe they can win the award. “It is a very humbling process to judge,” admits Sullivan. “On the other hand, it renews my optimism in main street entrepreneurship, just seeing the stories and the journeys of these applicants…”
To read about these programs and hear more about the organization’s plans for small businesses, visit the U.S. Chamber of Commerce website.