I had a conversation with someone where I sought guidance for the wellness platform that we recently launched.

She has been at the same company for over 25 years and is now an EVP. Her feedback was that her company views themselves as Best in Class and will only work with those who are not only well-established but also perceived as trusted advisors. They do not work with small business startups because they have no guarantee of quality.

I am thankful for her candid feedback and understand her reasoning and perspective. Many others also share that point of view. Best in class is the safer bet.

While some do recognize the importance of supporting startups and small businesses, they will not take the risk.

Those who step up to be the early adopters of the unknown rockstars, risk takers, disrupters, everyday geniuses, unsung heroes, underdogs, and the David of David and Goliath are often leaders who drive innovation and positive change benefiting our economy.

The significance of supporting startups and small businesses is undeniable given their high impact on innovation, as well as the economy and job creation.


  • Small Businesses are more innovative, producing 16x more patents per employee than large corporations.(1)
  • Small businesses are more nimble and allow for entrepreneurs to thrive, making these environments 13x more innovative per employee than the environments in which large firms traditionally operate.(2)

Economy and Local Community

  • Over 30 million small businesses contribute 44% to the U.S. economy. (3)
  • They create 64% of net new jobs (3) and employ about half of the U.S workforce. (4)
  • They keep disposable income and tax money within their local communities which support schools and other municipal services. (5)

Women and Minorities

  • Pre-Covid, employment by women-owned businesses rose 8%, more than 4x the rate for all businesses. Women of Color were starting businesses at 4.5x the rate of all businesses. (6)
  • Minorities own about 29% of businesses, generate over $1 trillion in revenue, and have a growth rate that is 2x the rate of non-minority businesses. (7)

In his interview with Issie Laposky, Malcolm Gladwell says of his book “David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants” that “most people get this famous Biblical yarn all wrong because they misunderstand who really has the upper hand. It is because of, and not despite, David’s size and unorthodox choice of weapon that he is able to slay the lumbering giant”. (8) He also speaks of the herculean effort that most people prefer to avoid, including the around-the-clock hours required of those working at a startup. The assumption is that those who work for a successful startup log much longer hours than a Fortune 500.

According to Wikipedia, “An underdog is a person or group in a competition, usually in sports and creative works, who is popularly expected to lose. The party, team, or individual expected to win is called the favorite or top dog…An “underdog bet” is a bet on the underdog or outsider for which the odds are generally higher.” (9)

The Top Dogs or Best in Class have to start from somewhere. They were once the few who toiled tirelessly towards a vision that others may not have embraced from the onset.

Covid has rendered 31% of small businesses as currently non-operational (10), many permanently. This heightens the need for early adopters and supporters of startups and small businesses, who are critical to revitalizing the economy and the successful innovations that help to fuel it.

?So, cheers to the Davids and the underdogs and those who bet on them.
?Though we are not yet best in class, we are small and mighty.

Data Sources:

  1. https://advocacy.sba.gov/2011/10/01/analysis-of-small-business-innovation-in-green-technologies/#:~:text=of%20their%20business.-,Small%20innovative%20firms%20are%2016%20times%20more%20productive%20than%20large,with%20500%20or%20more%20employees.
  2. https://open.lib.umn.edu/exploringbusiness/chapter/5-2-the-importance-of-small-business-to-the-u-s-economy/#:~:text=According%20to%20one%20SBA%20study,operate%20(Baumol%2C%202005).
  3. https://advocacy.sba.gov/2019/01/30/small-businesses-generate-44-percent-of-u-s-economic-activity/
  4. https://www.sba.gov/sites/default/files/advocacy/2018-Small-Business-Profiles-US.pdf
  5. https://smallbusiness.chron.com/benefits-businesses-local-economy-265.html
  6. https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20190923005500/en/Woman-Owned-Businesses-Are-Growing-2X-Faster-On-Average-Than-All-Businesses-Nationwide
  7. https://thehill.com/opinion/finance/432621-celebrating-the-rise-of-minority-owned-businesses
  8. https://www.inc.com/issie-lapowsky/malcolm-gladwell-david-and-goliath.html
  9. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Underdog
  10. https://www.oberlo.com/blog/small-business-statistics


  • Liem Le

    Founder / CEO

    Little Lion

    Liem Le is the Founder/CEO of Little Lion, a company that provide services to build community through inclusion, wellness, and leadership building.

    A champion for work-life purpose, Liem reached a turning point in her career where she now redirects her efforts to prioritize people, wellness, and inclusive community in and outside of the workplace. Liem founded Little Lion and the company was recognized by Built In Chicago as one of the Top 50 Startups to Watch 2020. Liem brings a wealth of experience in sales and marketing analytics from both startup and corporate environments, including Fortune 500 companies. Her work has taken her to the global stage to present as a thought leader, game changer, purposeful leader, and keynote speaker. She was the Keynote speaker at the 2019 Heineken USA Women’s Leadership Forum and received the 2018 Best of Best Leader Award from the Network of Executive Women Chicago. Liem also serves on several non-profit committees including The Field Museum Board of Trustees’ Marketing Committee and DEI Taskforce of The Executives' Club of Chicago. She has vacationed in over 30 countries and likes bringing a book on her travels. An avid reader since childhood, she’s a fan of all genres whether nonfiction, classic, mysteries, romance, thriller or other. If you nudge her enough, she may eventually tell you she has an affinity for coming of age stories “at any age” because growth happens well into adulthood.