woman leaning against a brick wall in a white jacket
woman leaning against a brick wall in a white jacket

My co-author Seth Levine and I had an exciting weekend. Journalist Michel Martin interviewed us on NPR’s All Things Considered about our book, The New Builders: Face To Face With The True Future Of Business, coming out May 4th.

Here’s the segment, where we advocate for a new movement of support for small businesses, including real financial system reform and a mindset shift. Our book highlights the next generation of great entrepreneurs, who are mostly women and people of color.

We were part of a longer program that looked at small business in Washington, D.C. I’m also a Washingtonian with a soft spot for the real city that exists underneath the federal capital. In the segment before ours, Martin interviewed food blogger Anela Malik about the soul of the city. 

Washington had seen a huge renaissance in fine dining before the pandemic, but Martin and Malik spoke about how the surge of support for Black-owned restaurants has trickled away. “I am worried about restaurants and small businesses in general. But I do see a lot of resiliency in that community,” Malik said.

The answer won’t be patchwork solutions, but a real commitment to rebuilding our finance system for small businesses – we outline the why and how in our book. In the meantime, on NPR, I suggested that people who work in big business settings take a hard look at how they behave, especially if you’re in an executive role.

Over my years as a freelancer and solopreneur, I’ve had many clients make cruel demands – work over Christmas, for instance – that they’d never make of employees. Big companies pay late, essentially financing themselves on the backs of small business owners. I’ve known friends who lost substantial clients because they missed a deadline because of a child in the hospital, and one who lost her house when a client didn’t pay.

Obviously, your obligations are lower toward a vendor than an employee. But who decided ruthlessness was the right way to run the business world? Certainly our mindless acceptance of it is fairly new – and I believe whether we live with this out-of-balance business culture is up to us.

This story and others on New Builders Dispatch are made possible by a sponsorship from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation is a private, nonpartisan foundation that provides access to opportunities that help people achieve financial stability, upward mobility, and economic prosperity – regardless of race, gender, or geography. The Kansas City, Mo.-based foundation uses its grantmaking, research, programs, and initiatives to support the start and growth of new businesses, a more prepared workforce, and stronger communities. For more information, visit www.kauffman.org and connect with www.twitter.com/kauffmanfdn and www.facebook.com/kauffmanfdn.

A business journalist for 20 years, am the founder of Times of Entrepreneurship and the co-author of The New Builders.