Washington Wrap Up

During my visit to Washington, D.C. last week, I met with policymakers and experts about public issues at the heart of Dell’s Small and Medium Business segment. As mentioned in my earlier blog post, my goal was to share perspectives from entrepreneurs outside the beltway – your perspectives – and foster a dialogue based on what we hear from you. I’d like to continue that dialogue by telling you a little about what was discussed in DC.

The importance of strengthening trade and exports to fuel the growth of small and medium businesses so they can create jobs here at home was the focus of a robust discussion on U.S. competitiveness during the board meeting of the U.S. China Business Council.  Virginia’s Governor McDonnell and Delaware’s Governor Markell presented to the board, and Commerce Secretary Bryson also presented the Administration’s views and concerns about China. He was optimistic about the future – and agreed on the importance of expanding opportunities for small and medium sized businesses with this vast trade partner. Notably, American exports to China have quadrupled during the past 15 years.

Senator Mary Landreiu (D-LA), who chairs the Senate Small Business & Entrepreneurship Committee, and Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Vice Chairwoman of the Republican Conference, joined me on Capitol Hill for the Center for Public Policy Innovation small business summit. I had the unique opportunity to moderate a panel featuring Sean Greene, Assistant Administrator for Investment and Special Advisor for Innovation at the Small Business Administration, Scott Case, CEO of the Startup America Partnership  and Founding CTO of Priceline, and Jonathan Ortmans, President Global Entrepreneurship Week and Senior Fellow at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. Panelists shared data and studies on startup and small business performance, agreeing on the importance of the start-up culture to foster growth. Ortmans emphasized the inherently American ‘start-up mentality’, and Case attested that this mindset is key to entrepreneurs’ ability to overcome failure and ultimately succeed and grow.

Case also shared one of the more poignant observations during my visit when he said founders of startups see their companies as large businesses that simply haven’t scaled yet (this was certainly the case for Michael Dell, and he still brings this startup mindset to Dell) – hence their drive to grow and grow fast. And that’s what it all came down to. No matter the topic – trade, capital, technology – or the venue – from the Hill to the White House – every conversation was ultimately about growth and how policies can do more to help companies succeed.

Something I was reminded of in the Startup America meeting with President Obama and his team of advisors at the White House, and reflected on throughout the visit, is the role of the private sector here as well.

Certainly, profitable growth is a top priority for Dell and for our commercial customers. And technology plays a key role in helping entrepreneurs scale their companies to become the large businesses they see themselves destined to be. Our strategy to offer solutions that are open, capable and affordable so companies can be more nimble, efficient and grow faster is one key way we enable our customers’ success.

And beyond our core business and the products we sell, we’re working to fuel the growth of small and medium businesses through policy efforts, partnerships and key programs.

We are sharing our voice, expertise and resources with the Startup America Partnership and Kauffman Foundation, for example, to do our part to help increase access to technology, capital and networks and future innovation for entrepreneurs. Programs like the Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network (DWEN) connect the entrepreneurs we serve globally with one another and new sources of financial and human capital, expertise and markets.

Above all, the most important thing we can do – something that’s uniquely Dell – is listen to you so we can understand the issues and realities that most impact your business. That means your participation in these programs and in this conversation is vital. 

We know access to global markets can help you grow faster. So, if you haven’t already, think about joining DWEN – it’s a great way to learn about opportunities in emerging markets. Or sign up to be a Startup America company. You can also join the conversation with our Dell Entrepreneur in Residence at #delleir on Twitter.

One of the next steps we are taking as well is to work with the Technology CEO Council to research policies that help or hurt global growth opportunities for small and medium businesses and develop a call to action for policymakers. Should we also extend that call to action to the private sector and investigate the role large companies like Dell play?

Tell us what you think. We welcome your thoughts and look forward to continuing the conversation on Twitter @sjfeliceatdell and #delleir, #domore.

About the Author: Steve Felice