By all accounts, the telecom carrier industry is set to grow again in the coming year. In a world of 7 billion people, almost every one of them owns a handset. And more than 10 percent of the globe is now wired on broadband.
BetterWorld has been a part of the telecom industry’s tremendous growth and was fortunate to make the 2011 Inc. 5000 List. We are on pace to be there again in 2012 due, in part, to industry growth, growing demand as our customers use more teleconferencing and telecommuting and BetterWorld’s firm commitment to social and environmental sustainability. This commitment has engendered customer loyalty through tough times, and it helped us build partnerships and goodwill rarely found in our industry.
Looking forward, we are raising a modest amount of capital in the first or second quarter of 2012. This will allow us to hire 10 more people, roughly doubling our staff.
In our customer base of approximately 1,000 small to mid-sized businesses and nonprofits in 40 states, we’re seeing many customers struggle to keep the lights on. They are frustrated about the difficulty of raising capital to grow their businesses.
While we are focused on internal industry concerns such as telecom consolidation and collusion and those that would dismantle net neutrality, our top concern as a company in 2012 is helping to lead the charge and get much more support to small, independently owned businesses across America. We see this as the largest return on investment for the government, investors and consumers. This is also where our national economic focus needs to lie in the short and medium term.
Small businesses account for a disproportionate share of growth and new job creation. Much of the growth that large businesses report is not internally generated but is the result of their buying up smaller businesses.
According to the latest U.S. Department of Labor stats, small businesses account for roughly a third of our economy. Firms with less than 100 people account for 99 percent of the companies in the U.S., and 30 percent of the jobs.
As both large companies and government shrink their employee rolls, America must strengthen, train and support smaller, independent and innovative businesses. There are many positive signs at all levels that this is happening. The support just needs to be coalesced. Some examples include:
●The Startup America Partnership, chaired by Steve Case, is a private initiative that encourages the formation of fast-growing new businesses. Four separate bills and rule changes are fast tracking now through Congress and the Securities and Exchange Commission — all of which will bolster fundraising for smaller start-ups and existing small businesses.
●“Buy Local, Be Local” campaigns are now standard fare in many communities all over America during the holidays. Buying local yields more jobs, stronger communities.
On the horizon, hope is alive with the Millennials and Gen Y’ers. A recent Inc. magazine article stated that 54 percent of this age group said they either wanted to start a business or have already started one.
The entrepreneurial spirit binds America. We need to feed this spirit and adjust our thinking, laws and regulations to bolster the next generation.
Think of this as the greatest opportunity for our country to stay competitive in the world and to hand the next generations a fighting chance.
Matt Bauer is president and co-founder of Reston-based BetterWorld Telecom, the leading sustainable business to business voice and data carrier in the U.S.