New Partnership to Help Empower Small-Business Community

WASHINGTON, D.C., October 27, 1999 — “Tech savvy” isn’t just for technology companies anymore. Microsoft and the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) today announced a partnership that will conduct research and provide services aimed at ensuring that small businesses are not left behind as technology evolves — or left out of the public policy debate.

The partnership will conduct joint research to further explore the challenges and obstacles faced by small firms introducing technology into their businesses, as well as the public policy priorities for high-tech entrepreneurs and the impact of government on the technology industry. The partnership will also provide NFIB members with affordable Internet access, Web site and technology consulting, and training seminars on technology and business opportunities.

The new partnership was created as a result of research conducted by NFIB and Microsoft, which shows that a significant number of small businesses are not taking full advantage of technology and that small high-tech firms are now ready for a more active role when it comes to public policy.

One study of more than 300,000 small businesses working with Microsoft, conducted by TeleSight, Inc., showed that 65 percent of high-tech entrepreneurs vote in every election, but a majority feel that government is an impediment to — rather than a proponent for — small business. These small businesses also share with traditional small businesses the belief that current tax codes are too complex.

A separate study of small business owners, conducted by Gallup, showed that small businesses generally expect to increase their use of technology within the next year. Only 16 percent currently have a business Web site, and 60 percent of those feel that the Internet currently plays a negligible role, or no role at all, in their operations. Fewer than half of small businesses with Web sites use them to sell goods or services.

“Small businesses typify an entrepreneurial spirit that is uniquely American; they are the heart and soul of our national economy,”
said Microsoft Chief Operating Officer Bob Herbold.
“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.”

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