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Should Small Businesses Be Allowed to Be Bigger?

For those who don't read the fine print on the Small Business Administration's website, the agency has proposed increasing the size definitions for small businesses in 71 business sectors, mostly within retail industries. It's the first proposed rule change on qualifying size since 1984.

Why should you care? It means bigger businesses would still qualify for SBA loans and other federal assistance to small business.

Now, is that a good thing or a bad thing? I'm of two minds.

On the one hand, small businesses that are succeeding tend to grow bigger. Should they be penalized for that success by not having access to SBA loans anymore?

On the other hand, if the category of qualified businesses gets bigger, it'll likely mean fewer loans for smaller small businesses--and those are the ones that usually have the hardest time finding capital, particularly as they launch. And if companies are growing and succeeding, shouldn't they be able to go out and get traditional loans without the SBA's backing?

Personally, I liked the analysis of Small Business Trends executive editor Anita Campbell, who opined last week that the SBA should stop tinkering with its arcane list of hundreds of various qualifying size standards and instead establish a single size standard that would apply across all business categories.

Whether you think the size-change proposal is good or bad, you've got until Dec. 21 to weigh in. Visit www.regulations.gov, or email sizestandards@sba.gov to voice your opinion.

Carol Tice, a freelance writer, is chief executive of TiceWrites Inc. in Bainbridge Island, Wash. She blogs about freelance writing at Make a Living Writing. Email her at carol@caroltice.com.

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