Once every two years a committed, vocal group of small business owners gather at the Small Business Congress presented by the National Small Business Association to help set priorities for advocacy. This year the conference was held in Phoenix and it lived up to its promise to bring together the true voice of small business. Those who attended from across the country had the chance to listen to leading policy experts from across the country about some of the issues that we all face every day. The topics included some of the ones you would expect; health care reform, the deficit and the state of small business. One very hot topic was cybersecurity. The sessions helped to frame what is likely going to be ahead in the 114th Session of Congress.
What I found most interesting were the sessions that debated the key issues and crafting of NSBA’s policy agenda. They fell into four big buckets- Taxation, Economic Development, Environmental and Regulatory, and Health and Human services. I recently became the Vice Chair for Advocacy for NSBA so I found myself scurrying in and out of all the sessions to try and get a flavor for what was top of mind for these business owners. The truth is that there are so many issues that setting an agenda required some “rules.” We asked the participants to try and set aside their own personal agendas and think about this from the broader perspective of all small businesses. We asked them to consider if this was an issue specific to small business or one where the small business perspective could add value to a broader conversation. We also asked them if the issue would affect the overall small business community.
At the end of the four sessions, participants had to pick their top three issues from the larger list that was debated. These went to the full group and then there was a vote to pick the Top 10. I won’t go into the results. You can read about them here. http://www.nsba.biz/?p=9297
What I will say is that I was so impressed with the quality of the discussion. Small business owners want to be engaged in the National conversation and they do their homework. If you want to do a little of your own homework on the issues spend some time on the survey results. It is likely to be a very busy year in DC and we all need to stay current.