The USA is a brand. That brand was conceived of and built by true entrepreneurs. It continues today with the American small business. The American Forefathers were not accepting of taxation without representation and so broke away from an oppressive model that was suppressing their entrepreneurial aspirations in the new colonies. When you study history deeply, you will find that they reason they decided to revolt was more economical than for any other reason.
By the mid 1700’s Britain was at its height of power, but was also heavily in debt. Since the creation of the Bank of England, they had suffered four costly wars and the total debt now stood at £140,000,000, which in those days was a lot of money. In order to make their interest payments to the bank, the British government set about a program to try to raise revenues from their American colonies, largely through an extensive program of taxation.
There was a shortage of material for minting coins in the colonies, so in 1764 they began to print their own paper money, which they called Colonial Scrip. This provided a very successful means of exchange and also gave the colonies a sense of identity. Colonial Script was money provided to help the exchange of goods. It was debt free paper money not backed by gold or silver. So successful, that in 1776 the British crown started to create counterfeit colonial script in an effort to devalue it and create a distrust with the usage of it.
During a visit to Britain in 1763, The Bank of England asked Benjamin Franklin (a successful entrepreneur himself) how he would account for the new found prosperity in the colonies. Franklin replied,
“That is simple. In the colonies we issue our own money. It is called Colonial Scrip. We issue it in proper proportion to the demands of trade and industry to make the products pass easily from the producers to the consumers. In this manner, creating for ourselves our own paper money, we control its purchasing power, and we have no interest to pay to no one.”
America had learned that the people’s confidence in the currency was all they needed, and they could be free of borrowing debts. That would mean being free of the Bank of England.
In response the world’s most powerful independent bank used its influence on the British parliament to press for the passing of the Currency Act of 1764. This act made it illegal for the colonies to print their own money, and forced them to pay all future taxes to Britain in silver or gold.
Here is what Franklin said after that. “In one year, the conditions were so reversed that the era of prosperity ended, and a depression set in, to such an extent that the streets of the Colonies were filled with unemployed.”
Franklin also noted in his autobiography, “The colonies would gladly have borne the little tax on tea and other matters had it not been that England took away from the colonies their money, which created unemployment and dissatisfaction. The inability of the colonists to get power to issue their own money permanently out of the hands of George III and the international bankers was the PRIME reason for the Revolutionary War.”
Today’s American Small Business
The American Small Business is the backbone of the American economy. Over two-hundred and thirty years later, we are an economic superpower that is driven by entrepreneurs and the American small business. Here are some interesting stats from the Small Business Administration from 2012 concerning the stats of the American small business and what share they have in our economy:
- 99.7 percent of U.S. employer firms
- 64 percent of net new private-sector jobs
- 49.2 percent of private-sector employment
- 42.9 percent of private-sector payroll
- 46 percent of private-sector output
- 43 percent of high-tech employment
- 98 percent of firms exporting goods
- 33 percent of exporting value
Revive and assist the American small business owner and you instigate an economic revival for the entire nation. Want to see the unemployment numbers drop? Help the American small business owner. Want to see a growth in GDP? Help the American small business owner.
My Pursuit of the American Small Business Dream
Branding and marketing was first introduced to me I was 18 years old. In 1982, my parents started their own small business, a travel agency, in Irvine, CA. Back then, our marketing efforts comprised of simple fliers that I produced with rub on letters and our small copier machine located in the back of the office. I created a new flier each week and handed out hundreds of these to small and medium business in the surrounding business parks. With these flyers and small Sunday ads that we ran in our local paper, we generated over a million dollars in sales within our first year in business. In 1982, a million dollars in sales was pretty impressive for a family owned business and an impressionable teenager. I now possessed first hand experience that marketing was the crucial factor to business success.
A few years later, I went to work for a boutique advertising agency in Orange County, CA. The exciting career gave me the opportunity to meet hundreds of small and medium business professionals who were struggling with their branding and how to take their wares and message to the market place. It was at this time I started to read books by David Ogilvy and Trout & Ries. Classics that I still refer to 30 years later.
While working diligently at the agency for over a year and half, I was able to see the two important sides to this marketing problem. On one side, I witnessed the struggles and confusions of those who had embarked to become entrepreneurs and business owners. Filled with passion and wavering in their determination to succeed, they were seeking better ways to brand and market. And on the other side, I was now working with marketing professionals who were developing these challenges into new brands and marketing messages, well designed and intelligently crafted into detailed programs and stunning materials. This constant juxtaposition of these two worlds gave me a unique perspective that has left an indelible impression upon how I see branding work in the real world.
I learned that between the struggle and the creativity that a solution can be found. When ambitious business people connect with creative and competent branding professionals, businesses develop into higher entities and thus grow. I have seen this first hand so many times, that I find it slightly comical when people attempt to sell me their excuses as to why they cannot succeed in business.