Small business is an American cultural icon. Companies with fewer than 500 employees account for almost two-thirds of net new jobs and generate 13 times more new patents per employee than large ones do. But optimism among these enterprises is at its lowest levels in almost 20 years. If the US economy had generated as many start-ups in the Great Recession’s aftermath as it did in 2007, the country would have almost 2.5 million more jobs.
No small businesses have greater importance for employment than a subset of high-growth ones that can more or less double their revenues and workforce every four years. McKinsey research shows that such firms flourish in every industry and in far more places than most people know. To learn more, read “Restarting the US small-business growth engine” (November 2012) and watch its associated video conversation with Steve Case, a cofounder of AOL.