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Small Business

What's in a Name?

What does a startup software company, with proprietary technology and a patent pending, have in common with, say, Larry's Launderama or Darcy's Dog Walking Service? Sure, they're all small businesses -- privately owned, with fewer than 100 employees, and less than $1 million in annual revenue. But the software startup's business concerns differ greatly from those of Larry and Darcy.

The software developer needs a lot more capital -- both financial and intellectual. His potential for fast growth is greater, and he's likely to need more sophisticated financing, marketing, and employee benefits, as well as more sophisticated help from economic and political policymakers.

BROADER EMPHASIS. Recognizing that the high-tech sector of the economy is spawning companies much different than the "mom and pop" storefront operations traditionally associated with the term "small business," Senator John Kerry, head of the Senate's Small Business Committee, has gotten his fellow legislators to change the committee's name. It's now the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Committee.

The longer name apparently reflects an enlarged viewpoint. "Early on, it is often impossible to distinguish a small business from an entrepreneurial company," Kerry said in a statement accompanying the name-change resolution on June 29. "Only when a company starts to grow fast and make fundamental changes in a market do the differences come into play. Policies that support entrepreneurship become critical during this phase of the business cycle. Our public policies can only play a significant role during this critical phase if we understand the needs of entrepreneurial companies and are prepared to respond appropriately."

The name change, Kerry's first piece of legislation as head of the committee, seems to reserve a front-row seat for the New Economy in the new Senate. By Theresa Forsman in New York

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