Tag Archive for 'public policy'

When small business gets organized, the world will change for the better

The election is over and we have a new president-elect. When I polled my online audience in October about who they would vote for in the upcoming contest, two-thirds of our respondents said Trump, while 13% chose Clinton. After the election, when I went to the same online network to ask how they felt about the election results, six-of-ten were “thrilled,” 29% allowed they were “glad it didn’t go the other way,” with only 8% saying they were unhappy with how it turned out.
When you understand that there are approximately 100 million American voters directly impacted by a small business, responses to our polling, as well as others with which I’m familiar, make me believe small business voters contributed to Mr. Trump winning 30 states. Consequently, small business owners will be justified in watching Trump’s actions to see if he is as much of a payroll-making, job-creating kinsman as they apparently think he is.
But the small business sector has to do more than just hold someone else accountable - we have to hold ourselves accountable. We need to participate in the public policy debate and contribute to the results. Otherwise, we’ll be relegated to taking what we’re given by policy makers who can presume that we don’t care.
Engagement in public policy should be a small business priority for two reasons:  politicians and bureaucrats. These are the people with the power to levy taxes and impose regulations, both of which can negatively impact your business. The first element of this priority is to identify local, state and federal elected representatives, and make a plan to contact each one this year. Every year these individuals pass laws that spawn regulations and mandates that have an impact on your business. Unfortunately, too often that impact is negative.
It’s dangerously naïve to expect policy makers to intuitively act in the best interest of small business.  Not that they intend to hurt us, but there are at least two reasons why small businesses often draw the short straw:
  1. Too many politicians have never made a payroll, and consequently know little or nothing about the challenges small business owners face.
  2. Our message gets pushed aside by that of more organized and better-funded interest groups (read: unions and corporate America).

Small businesses have to find a way to get more involved, either through our own direct efforts, or indirectly through organizations that advocate for us. Excellent ways to do this is to first find out what’s being debated and weigh in based on your position with a letter, phone call, or even a visit. Next, learn about the voting record of your Congressional delegation on laws that affect small business. Then write a letter to them and/or attend local meetings they conduct, to congratulate them if they have a supportive voting record, or express your disappointment if they don’t, and encourage them to do better.

Yes, I know you probably don’t have time to get directly involved in public policy or politics. But here’s good news: There are a number of advocacy groups that track key small business policy issues and defend and advocate for Main Street businesses at all government levels. Here’s a short list I recommend:
  • Local and industry: You should always be a member of your local Chamber of Commerce and your industry’s trade group. Both have policy advocacy efforts.
  • National and state: Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council, (sbecouncil.org); National Federation of Independent Business, (nfib.com); Competitive Enterprise Institute (cei.org); National Taxpayers Union (ntu.org). There are others, and you can’t go wrong supporting more than one. Your support, especially financial, contributes to their voice at the policy table.
Regardless of your party affiliation or how you voted, as the Trump administration works with a GOP majority Congress over the next two years, many issues will be debated that impact your business. Find a way - directly or indirectly - to make your voice heard.
The choice is yours: Participate in small business policy-making, or take what you’re given by those who can rightly assume that you don’t care.
Write this on a rock … At 100 million strong, if small business stakeholders were organized, the world would change - for the better.

What President Obama doesn’t get about creating small business jobs

In the two previous posts, I reported on things I liked about President Obama’s State of the Union speech and my critique of his specific small business jobs-creation ideas.  In this post, I predict that all of the tax credits, bank loans or other policy gyrations designed to influence small businesses to create new jobs will fall woefully short of a successful result because none of these issues are the reason businesses aren’t creating jobs. The reason for sluggish jobs creation is best described by paraphrasing a recent movie title: Mr. President, we’re just not that into your policy initiatives.  Here are the two issues Obama doubled-down on in his speech that are in direct conflict with his hope of new small business jobs.

Health care reform: Most Main Street small business owners will be reluctant to hire new employees as long as Obama and his party’s leadership push a health care reform agenda that sounds confusing at best and prohibitively expensive at worst.  Mr. President, if you want more small business jobs, scrap the current health care reform bill in Congress and start over with market-based solutions that make health insurance portable by giving tax advantages to the individual rather than the 20th century model of deductions for the employer.

Climate change legislation: America’s businesses, large and small, are already the most carbon-efficient in the world when the appropriate measurement is ascribed, per dollar of GDP.  Mr. Obama should congratulate businesses for this and encourage more of the same, instead of deriding and demotivating the marketplace with his climate-change policies that cause small businesses concern over what will happen to their energy budget if the current climate-change legislation is passed. 

President Obama, your current strategy for motivating small businesses to hire more people won’t work. You need better small business advisors who can prevent you from embarrassing yourself with statements and proposals that demonstrate how out-of-touch you are with Main Street.

Recently on my radio program, The Small Business Advocate Show, I reported in more detail on these issues. Take a few minutes to listen and, as always, let me know what you think the government can do to help small businesses hire more people. Listen Live! Download, Too!

Small business and the public policy debate

Sitting here at the 2nd Annual Small Business Leadership Summit in NYC, about a hundred business owners and advocates have come together to discuss the state of small business in America. The news was sobering when the discussion was around the economic conditions we see in front of us, but it turned positive when the topic was on the future and how small business owners will be the leading sector to pull this economy out of the doldrums.

But in my opinion, this is not a time to be philosophical about what’s happening. As small business owners go about digging our economy out of its ditch, this is a time to get mad about the abuses and incompetence of the people and institutions we thought we could trust and who’ve now put our economy in jeopardy. I think it’s time for those of us on Main Street to take back our marketplace. What do you think?

Of course we can’t win unless we survive, so that’s our first goal – to make sure we survive; which means we stick to our knitting and focus on operating our businesses. But concurrently, we have to become more involved in the debate about policies that our governments — federal and state — are creating, and proposing, to answer the economic problems we have. That means we support the groups that advocate for small business in Washington and in our State legislatures.

In case you need help finding these groups, one is your local chamber of commerce; if you’re not already a member, do that this week. A national group I endorse is the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council (sbecouncil.org). There are others. By supporting these groups, you can run your business and allow them to represent you in the debate about policies that impact our small businesses.

Brian Moran, founder of this Summit, president of Moran Media Group and Brain Trust member, and I talked about some of these issues on my show. Take a few minutes to listen to this interview and leave a comment.




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