Immigration policies, marketing strategies, emerging technologies, tasty cupcakes — they were all part of the conversation on Wednesday at the Powering Small Business.conference sponsored by Washington Post Live.

A panel consisting of a government leader, business owners and an entre­pre­neur­ship advocate were on hand for the event, the highlights of which can be seen in the video above and their comments below.

Scott Case, chief executive of Startup America

On the United States losing its foothold as the world leader in entrepreneurship:

The best athlete in high school is not necessarily the best athlete in college, and the best athlete in college is not necessarily the best athlete in the pros. We have benefited by the fact that we’ve been playing at a high school level while the British and everybody else have been in elementary school, but they’re catching up, and the bar is getting higher. So we need to step up our game.

Robert Litan, vice president for research and policy at the Kauffman Foundation

On security concerns surrounding new legislation allowing young firms to raise capital through online crowdfunding:

I think we’re at the stage right now with crowdfunding that we were with eBay before eBay existed. When eBay started, the standard knock was that it was going to be an invitation to fraud. But eBay figured this out; they figured out a way to develop trusted networks so you wouldn’t give your money to crooks, and people were eventually blacklisted. The same thing will happen with third-party crowdfunding sites; if you’re a crook, you’re not going to get any money.

Chad Moutray, chief economist at the National Association of Manufacturers

On small manufacturing firms looking for growth opportunities overseas:

When I was at the SBA, a lot of manufacturers were not being all that proactive when it came to exporting. Nowadays, when they’re looking to grow their businesses, exporting is an important part of that process, and part of that is because the domestic economy has slowed recently and people have to look overseas.

Karen Mills, administrator of the Small Business Administration

On helping federal agencies meet their oft-missed small business contracting goals:

It’s not a matter of just having a goal, it’s about getting it done. We are on the ground working with every agency and all kinds of small businesses, making sure those small businesses are prepared to be successful and making sure those agencies have matchmaking opportunities to find those small businesses. So we’re developing portals, holding in-person matchmaking sessions, and training federal contracting officers on how to work with small businesses.

Katherine Kallinis, co-founder of Georgetown Cupcake

On embracing the daily challenges of owning a small business:

Early on, we were struggling with the fact that we never had a day where nothing went wrong. A pipe bursting, an oven went down, the mixer breaks, a delivery didn’t come, somebody locked the keys in the van and it’s running, there was always something — and we used to get really down on ourselves because we never got a day that went smoothly. There is not a perfect day, every day is different, but as a small business owner, as long as you understand that, I think you can deal with problems a lot better.

Sophie LaMontagne, co-founder of Georgetown Cupcake

On instilling enthusiasm and pride in your employees:

As a small business owner, it’s really important to convey your passion to your staff, because they learn by example. We are still frosting cupcakes alongside them, packing orders, talking to customers, and when you share that passion with your staff, they take it on to your customers. Customers know when owners are passionate about their companies, and you need to instill that in your employees.

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