The impact that small businesses have on the American economy is undeniable, yet still many people underestimate it. Data shows that over 60% of new jobs are created through the activity of small businesses and a whopping 44% of the overall U.S. economic activity is generated thanks to them. Even though large corporations try tirelessly to dominate the market, the reality is that small businesses continue to be at the forefront of driving innovation and economic growth.
To understand this phenomenon more thoroughly we spoke with Ruming Zhen, an IT Product Manager, whose creative solutions have helped small business owners and self-employed individuals go through the challenging time of a global pandemic and thrive against the odds.
Ruming Zhen: a helping hand for small businesses
Ruming is an experienced Product Manager, with a strong educational background in Mechanical Engineering, Robotics and Product Design obtained from the prestigious Stanford University. He worked for Tesla, where, as a product manager, he led growth initiatives and scaled a new approach to product validation that contributed to the company's production ramp-up and global expansion.
Armed with practical product management knowledge and a substantial understanding of the market, he decided to redirect his skills to support those with fewer resources and less recognition. Since 2019, he has been serving as a Product Manager for Intuit, a financial software company, where he has had a real impact on small businesses through highly innovative software tools he led teams to develop. His efforts paid off, and Ruming successfully launched the COVID-19 relief products for Intuit's millions of small business customers across the U.S to leverage.
The impact of COVID-19 on small businesses
The pandemic hit the world hard at the beginning of 2020, and since then, small businesses and self-employed individuals have started a do-or-die battle to stay in the game. Even Intuit, a leader in financial services, took a hit. As a result of the circumstances, Intuit's customers were struggling financially with their own business problems and were no longer capable of paying for their employees or continuing normal business practices.
"I felt strongly that, as a company who works for small businesses, we need to go above and beyond to help our small business customers to survive this difficult time and thrive." - he says.
Because of Ruming's outstanding product management capabilities, he was appointed to lead a team of software engineers in solving the challenge with a very strict timeline. He supervised a team of software engineers, product designers, data scientists, quality analysts and compliance managers to launch a series of tools in the Quickbooks Online Payroll software. It was aimed to enable Intuit's millions of small business customers to leverage the federal and state level acts and new policies, postpone tax payment responsibility, apply for funds and retain employees. The product launches turned out to be a slam dunk– beneficial to millions of small businesses who could maintain their business activity and even prosper during the COVID-19 pandemic. It also saved job places for millions of employees. Without this helping hand from Ruming Zhen's work at Intuit, small business owners wouldn't easily be able to get back on their feet. The Quickbooks Online Payroll tool definitely took a lot of burden off of their shoulders and made recovery possible.
Navigating small business ownership or being self-employed is never easy and is always burdened with risk. Owners can really only rely on themselves, and the circumstances can be truly unpredictable. Products, like the one launched by Intuit, revive hope that small business owners are not completely alone and that there are indeed cross-functional teams out there – like the ones led by Ruming Zhen – who will extend a helping hand in a moment of crisis.