Main Street USA Meets the Information Superhighway

WASHINGTON, D.C., Oct. 27, 1999 — The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) and Microsoft Corp. today announced a partnership to help ensure that small businesses don’t get left behind on the information superhighway.

According to research released today by Microsoft and NFIB, many traditional small businesses are behind in using technology, while small firms in the high-tech industry are anxious to take a more active role in the public policy arena.

In a joint statement announcing the new partnership, Microsoft Executive Vice President Bob Herbold and NFIB President Jack Faris said the collaboration would serve a dual purpose.
“This partnership will let traditional small businesses use technology more effectively for their long-term growth and vitality, and it will give new high-tech entrepreneurs a chance to have their voices heard in Washington and in their own state capitals.”

“Small businesses typify an entrepreneurial spirit that is uniquely American; they are the heart and soul of our national economy,”
Herbold said.
“Microsoft itself started as a small business back in Albuquerque, and we couldn’t have achieved the success we have today without the hundreds of thousands of small businesses across the nation with which we have joined to serve consumers. Now, working with NFIB’s 600,000 members, these small companies will have access to an organization that can help them navigate the technology challenges that all small businesses face.”

“As the voice of small business, NFIB wants to ensure that these businesses stay competitive in the new global marketplace,”
Faris said.
“The future offers great opportunities but also great dangers for our members. With Microsoft, we can learn about and provide innovative technology solutions to traditional small businesses to help them not just survive, but prosper. For high-tech entrepreneurs, we can provide assistance in addressing their special public policy concerns.”

A study of small-businesses working with Microsoft (independent software developers, solution providers and resellers) conducted in August by TeleSight Inc., a Chicago research firm, showed remarkable similarities between traditional small businesses and new high-tech entrepreneurs. Of the more than 300,000 small-businesses working with Microsoft in the United States, the typical company employs six or fewer workers; the total number of employees in small businesses nationwide is 2.2 million. Both the traditional and high-tech companies tended to believe strongly that participating in public policy debates is good for business.

Another study conducted in August by The Gallup Organization showed that while small businesses in general expect to increase their use of technology over the next year, only half are currently online. Sixty percent of small-business owners with Web sites said they feel the Internet currently plays a negligible role in their operations; fewer than half said they use their site to sell goods or services.

NFIB and Microsoft are planning additional studies to explore policy questions that are important to both groups but might be missing from the current debate. Both groups hope elected officials will use the information from these polls to gain greater insight and understanding of these new small businesses and their particular policy challenges.

Other projects envisioned for the new Microsoft and NFIB partnership include the following:

  • Joint research to explore the challenges and obstacles faced by small firms in introducing technology into their businesses

  • Joint research to further understand the policy needs of high-tech entrepreneurs

  • Web site and technology consulting for NFIB members

  • Training seminars on technology and business opportunities

The NFIB is the nation’s largest small-business advocacy group. A nonprofit, nonpartisan organization founded in 1943, the NFIB represents the consensus views of its 600,000 members in Washington, D.C., and all 50 state capitals.

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq
) is the worldwide leader in software for personal and business computing. The company offers a wide range of products and services designed to empower people through great software – any time, any place and on any device. >

Microsoft is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.

Other product and company names herein may be trademarks of their respective owners.

Note to editors: If you are interested in viewing additional information on Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft® Web page at on Microsoft’s corporate information pages. More information about the NFIB is available online at .

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