This article is cross-posted on the Broadband for America blog here. Keith Parnell, CEO of JASE Digital Media, is a participating blogger for Broadband for America, regular blogger at keithparnell.com and a contributor here in our digital media world.
The poster child for recovering from our current economic woes has, from the beginning, been “small business.” You’ve heard and read the statements of politicians and economists about how “small businesses” will lead us out of the recession.
The definition of a “small business” is pretty fluid. According to the Small Business Administration, depending upon what the business does, it can have as many as 1,500 employees and bill as much as $35.5 million per year.
For most of us, the definition is somewhat narrower: A few employees, some of whom might well be family members, and a constant struggle to keep everyone on the payroll in hard times. For some of us the definition of a small business is: just me.
No matter what the size of a small business, we need all the tools we can get our hands on to compete in a global marketplace. We have to be able to find, qualify, market to, and make a sale to a client who may be time zones, if not continents, away.
The only way to accomplish that – without hopping on an airplane and blowing the sales budget for the quarter – is through the use of the Internet and, especially, through the use of a high-speed connection to the Internet.
On the inbound side, finding vendors – both of upstream parts for a small manufacturer, or talent for a service firm – can be all but impossible without the Internet. But, with a broadband connection, engineering drawings can be sent back and forth, contracts can be completed, and shipping schedules can be coordinated with ease and – depending upon time zones – speed.
Many small service companies – graphic design, technical writing and engineering firms, for instance – can hum along very nicely with “employees” who are never, or rarely, in the same place at the same time.
With broadband connections employees – whether full-time, part-time or contractors – can work from their homes, again time zones apart, without having to commute or having to pack up the family and move to a different city.
With high-speed access to the Internet, staff meetings can take place using free, or relatively inexpensive software and Web cams. A writer can live in Omaha, providing copy to a company located in Cincinnati for a client in Austin with the accounting and payroll being done by someone in Phoenix.
For small businesses – real small businesses – broadband access to the Internet isn’t a luxury. It is an absolute necessity. For small businesses that exist in small communities, it may not even be available.
If “small business” is going to lead America out of the recession, thereby allowing America to maintain its leadership among the world’s economies; then broadband must be available to every business, and every home, in every city, town and village in the country.