BSR Broadcasts | Jennifer Baker on Successful Solos in the U.S.A.: Economic Development and the SBA

Jennifer Baker

Here at BSR, we’re passionate about the role of solo ventures in the small business economy. In fact, we think they are the future of work in this country. The SBA tells us that 78.5% of small businesses never hire employees—which, by definition, means they are one-person enterprises. There have been lots of discussions about “what to do about this”; most people view it as a problem, believing that the key to economic development is JOB creation—i.e. hiring. In contrast, we see this as a fascinating trend, indicating that the future will hold more and more freelancing, independent contracting, and business-to-business relationships. Think about the beautiful waterbug model Jackie wrote about last week; the only thing that needs to be “done” about it is that we need to focus on giving solo businesses the support they need to be successful, rather than trying to force them into the standard pyramid model that sees growth through the simplistic lens of employee numbers. Click here to learn about the pyramid vs. waterbug struggle.

It was the Small Business Association’s Jennifer Baker that first showed us the statistic we’ve been eagerly quoting for the past year or so, the one mentioned above: 78.5% of small businesses never hire employees. There are so many people in the small business world who can’t get out of the “job creation” mindset. But Jennifer sees the bigger picture…which means she can truly support the solo community and the principles of Better, Smarter, Richer.

Jennifer has served as an economic development specialist at the Portland District Office of the U.S. Small Business Administration since 2011. She leads district outreach efforts to expand the SBA’s visibility, identifying new target audiences and forging collaborative partnerships. In short, her desire to help small businesses reach new heights inspires her to pursue deeper levels of strategic engagement in support of the agency mission.

Prior to her work with the SBA, Jennifer earned an M.A. in International Policy, with a specialization in trade and development, and she gained 12 years of experience in business management and international trade/commercial policy. “I have always had an interest in what can broadly be referred to as “economic development’,” she writes. “People usually ask me what that means . . . and, it’s different than straight-up business development, because there are really so many variables that contribute to a healthy and competitive economy—everything from birth rates to levels of international trade and foreign direct investment. In my career, I’ve had the opportunity to work with stakeholders who feed into many different parts of the economic development schema. I am grateful for all of those experiences.”

It’s Jennifer’s depth and breadth of experience that has made her so willing and able to think outside the box, recognizing that the seven principles of BSR outline a truly sustainable business model that can—and will—contribute to economic growth in the Pacific Northwest and beyond. Listen her conversation with Jackie, all about the role of solos in the U.S. economy, and how the SBA plans to support us in the coming years. If you are (or want to be!) a solopreneur, you won’t want to miss this BSR Broadcast.