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Small Businesses, Big Employment

Small businesses are an integral part of the economy - in the US, small businesses make up more than half of all employment and almost 2/3 of net new jobs in the past 20 years. Small businesses are extremely unpredictable - in June 2014, 600,000 new small businesses opened, while 650,000 closed their doors. Most small businesses are not as technically advanced as larger businesses or high-growth startups and have trouble securing loans or financing for investment. Thus, small businesses often have trouble connecting to potential employees who may help them build their business. A free, online service that connects youth with small businesses would open a new door for youth employment and drive small business activity and profit

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LinkedIn is dominated by larger and high-tech companies, leaving little room for a traditional mom and pop store to find a suitable employee in that manner. Small businesses report that their employment needs are often not met, yet small businesses drive the economy in the US. A network, similar to LinkedIn, but designed for local companies with less than 50 employees would be able to connect small businesses with the workers their looking for. The network would facilitate matching candidates with opportunities by location, ensuring small businesses are looking at local candidates to benefit the local economy. 

Who does this idea benefit, who are the main players and what's in it for them?

This idea benefits both unemployed youth as well as small businesses. Small businesses receive labor at fair rates, while youth are connected with jobs (varying by skill) in their local area. Thus, the idea varies on who it benefits, but mostly on youth with a high school diploma at most. Promoting small businesses is key to growing the economy in the US as a whole - so government organizations such as the SBA may be keen to getting involved with the effort.

How is your idea specifically increasing access to employment opportunities and pathways for young people?

Youth employment in small businesses is often carried out through advertisements or word of mouth. Without technical advancements in many small businesses, it is difficult to adequately market open positions. Small businesses now have the ability to access a greater pool of candidates looking for a job, and candidates now can access a greater pool of small businesses.

What skills, input or guidance are you keen to receive from the OpenIDEO community to help you build out or refine your idea further?

My idea is in the ideation stage - i am keen to receive any more specifics on the design of the network and specifics that should be included to help small businesses. As I am not an expert in the traditional small business landscape, anyone who could help me gain empathy into what a small business is looking for in terms of evaluating and finding candidates would be great.

The idea emerged from:

  • An individual

How do you envision your idea being implemented?

  • I'm more throwing the idea out there to inspire potential implementers

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