It’s not often that something starts that has the potential to reach hundreds of thousands in a single state. This is one of those moments. I’m talking about the first in an ongoing 2016 launch of a business focuses cooperative called Micro-Advocates Cooperative (micro.coop). They are launching to help the huge number of underserved business entities that, by hiring locally or just going solo, make up close to 50% of the workforce.
Did you know that there are about 504,137 registered firms in Minnesota? (US Government data – after a lot of sifting.) Our 2015 population was 5,489,594 as of July per the Census Bureau. Hmmm, that means that 9% of our population is in business. That’s pretty impressive. So if you put 11 people in a line, including kids and retirees, at least 1 of them is running a business. (We’re not counting lemonade stands here, but they are part of our future – so pay the 25 cents and launch an entrepreneur!)
Of that 504,137, a full 475,825 are firms of less than 10. That’s 94.4% of all companies registered in Minnesota! These firms of less than 10 are too small to be classified by the Small Business Administration as ‘small’. The title of the essay lies in that bit of data. These businesses are ‘micros’ and their category is slowly being recognized as microbusiness. I have had to add it to all of my spell checkers – it’s that new.
Let’s drill a little deeper. Of that 475,825 microbusiness number, 387,440 have the unusual SBA designation of ‘companies with no employees’. That is a whopping 81% of the micros and 77% of all Minnesota businesses! By the way, this is not a dig at the SBA. They are a tremendous organization! It’s all about focus.
OK, so what? First of all Minnesota is not unique in these percentages. We’re a few points higher or lower than the other 49 states. What is key is that this segment of business which employs a huge number of Minnesotans has no real voice in business policy, has trouble getting business loans, is on their own for finding relevant mentors, networks, basic business education and training, not to mention being a pool of 1 for healthcare plans. It ain’t easy being micro.
How can something so large be so under served? Most likely it is a lack of a cohesive force to draw them together. That’s about to change. Back in November of last year Micro-Advocates Cooperative was incorporated. Their mission is to build a voice for micros so that they can be heard as a group. It is a cooperative organized to meet the large and diverse needs of owners of microbusinesses. It’s no small task. It’s not a micro task either. It’s really pretty big. That’s why they chose to be a cooperative. It’s going to take member cooperation to succeed. Minnesota is the land of cooperatives., so this is the right place and this is the right time
Update: June 28, 2016. The first meeting was a success! Another event is planned for July 20 at Como Park (rain or shine). For more details visit http://micro.coop. It’s from 10 – 11 AM followed by a free lunch!