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Slayer of Big Business


Originally published 12:39 p.m., November 27, 2006
Updated 5:00 p.m., December 18, 2006

Learning from Daniel Lowery, Author of Battling the Corporate Giants

by Hudson Hornick

giants.jpgMany of us balk at the task of starting our own business. Sure, we all dream about what kind of company we’d open, but the fundamentals of getting started are daunting. Even once established, the business owner’s work is never done — what business out there is wholly without competition?

But where these obstacles seem overwhelming, there is hope — at least in book form. Santa Barbara’s Daniel L. Lowery, a former small business owner, is the author of Battling the Corporate Giants: The Ultimate David and Goliath Story, a tell-all about how the small business owner can compete in what used to be, but unfortunately is no longer, a level playing field.

Armed with slingshots full of first-hand knowledge as co-owner of Wireless 101, Lowery employs the biblical underdog tale to depict a strategy for success that every burgeoning entrepreneur should learn. Aptly placed metaphors alongside an extensive history of the bad blood between the Philistines and the Israelites decorate what would otherwise be a crude simile to modern microeconomics. It makes for an interesting and quick read; invaluable to any would-be businessperson and enlightening for the layperson.

Although Lowery likes to joke that his book was written on his lunch hours, the bulk of his information and passion for it accumulated during his time spent in the office. We spoke recently.

What made you want to write the book? My brother Patrick and I owned a business here in Santa Barbara and, after an amount of time, I accumulated enough experience and knowledge that I thought would be helpful. I did all the research for this book in Borders, Barnes & Noble, and the Santa Barbara Public Library. There are a lot of books out there on owning your own business, but for the most part, they’re all targeted toward CEOs and heads of large corporations. I wanted to write a book to help the little guy.

Is corporate America really the bad guy? I think that is the case. Most jobs are created in businesses with 300 employees or less. Most innovations are created in businesses with 300 employees or less. Those are facts from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. But it’s no longer a level playing field for businesses. The book highlights several examples where big business has had special legislation passed to better benefit itself. McDonald’s was one of the first to do this in 1972 by pushing the “McDonald’s bill” through Congress, which allowed them to be the only fast-food chain to raise its prices and in addition permitted a 20 percent pay reduction for 16- and 17-year-olds. Enron was another example. Enron had losses put into special purpose entities, in which they’d hide their losses in order to show higher gains.

The 1990s ushered in an era of corporate non-prosecution. Corporations are basically unchecked. I put a chart in my book which shows how anti-trust isn’t enforced anymore. There was a big change in 1994 in the way corporations do their accounting. It’s almost as if we’re entering a second Gilded Age. We have to keep our corporations in check, not vice-versa.

What made you pick David and Goliath as a reference for your book? I’m not a particularly religious man; I just wanted something timeless, a story most people would know and an easy metaphor to apply. I began to research it and I was amazed at how appropriate it seemed. And I wanted to write about underdog strategies — everybody likes an underdog story.

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