As a distance runner at a small Iowa college it was always a thrill to compete at the Drake Relays in Des Moines.
Our four-by-one-mile relay team was often seeded in the same race as big-name track universities such as Kentucky, Arkansas, Villanova and Texas. We often set personal records in the process.
Small college athletes are just like small business owners. You have to compete in the larger marketplace. You may not have the resources, speed or reserves of a big business, but you do the best job with what you have. And you find your niche.
Recently I've had the opportunity to talk with a number of small business owners about the economic climate and how it affects their ability to compete. One recurring theme is the challenge of offering health care coverage to employees.
One business owner told me, "Thank God we've never had anyone with a bad illness or our rates would go through the roof." Another small business owner does not even try to offer health care benefits to his employees. "They're on their own," he told me.
A third business owner confessed he was shocked during an insurance review with his agent to find out how at risk he was of losing his insurance coverage completely. These are the voices of small business owners in today's health insurance marketplace.
This year, small businesses have seen rates jump by as much as 60 percent. Shopping for better rates is not encouraging. The process of buying individual insurance is just as absurd, and many people are turned down if they have pre-existing conditions.
Meanwhile the health care reform movement in America imposed a couple of wrinkles on the process, introducing legislation protecting children with pre-existing conditions and adults with similar medical challenges by 2014.
A shortsighted truth is that small businesses are at greater risk of losing …