Small businesses comprise over 99% of the companies in America and, before COVID-19, they provided nearly half the jobs in the country. Small business is one of the most trusted institutions in American society today (67%), far outstripping big business in measures of public trust (25%, Gallup, 2018). Small businesses and their entrepreneurial founders exemplify the values associated with the American Dream: they believe in free enterprise and the strength of their own vision, they work hard despite obstacles and, ultimately, their success lifts up not only themselves and their families, but those around them. Small businesses are our “Main Street”, the heart and soul of our urban neighborhoods and small towns, and their owners are often the first to respond to community needs, challenges and crises. At the same time, small businesses have been among those hardest hit by the coronavirus, with 60% of small businesses closing their doors, many permanently. Black-owned small businesses have been particularly devastated, with nearly half closing by the end of April 2020 (Forbes). The purpose of Start Small, Dream BIG is to celebrate the courage, vision and tenacity of small business owners of all kinds and to highlight their contribution to our communities and the American Dream.
COVID-19 has changed the way we work and live. In response to the public health emergency, Milken Institute Chairman Michael Milken is engaging a range of industry leaders and medical experts to help us better understand and confront a crisis that has not only altered our current day-to-day but will change the course of how we work, socialize, and fight disease for years to come.