Small businesses are a large part of the American tradition, and still play a vital role in the U.S. economy. Consider: In 2011 there were 28.2 million small businesses in the U.S., accounting for 99.7% of America’s employers; comparatively, there are only 17,700 firms with 500 employees or more, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).

In fact, small business employers—defined by the SBA’s Office of Advocacy as those independent businesses with fewer than 500 employees—are the ones driving the nation’s economic recovery. Small firms accounted for 63% of the net new private-sector jobs created between 1993 and mid-2013—or 14.3 million of the 22.9 million net new jobs, the SBA says. Since the end of the Great Recession (mid-2009 to mid-2013), small firms accounted for 60% of the net new jobs.

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