The 2012 US Presidential Election is fast approaching and with over 28 million small businesses, those entrepreneurs will make up a significant portion of the voting public. So, with that in mind, I have asked real life business owners and entrepreneurs to weigh in on what they think are the biggest issues facing small business for the upcoming election. Their answers are presented below in no particular order.
You may notice some similar ideas listed, but I kept them separate, as something in the way one is framed may resonate differently with you.
Confidence that the economy is on the right track to getting better and that our social fabric will not be gutted at the same time...
2. Improve Access to Capital
The government needs to do everything in its power to improve access to capital for small business owners. I'd like to see them working more with small local lenders to ease up on the credit criteria, so that more small business owners will be able to qualify. I believe small business owners should receive the benefit of the doubt when it comes to being approved for capital because many are recovering from the recession. It will enable the small businesses to bounce back quickly.
3. Who's Gonna' Make Us Happy?
The question that you won't hear reporters ask of the candidates during this election is "How are you going to make the American people happy?"
In normal jargon, we call it consumer confidence, but it boils down to people being happy, feeling that there is stability in their life. If they are happy and feel good, they spend money. If they are unhappy, they focus on just the bare necessities plus a nice meal out once in a while.
I'll vote for the person who can best provide happiness.
4. It's Only Uncertainty
Bottom line is that it probably makes no difference for most business people who wins the presidency. What is important is who can rid the environment of all of the uncertainty brought about by the actions of government. Successful businesses find ways to adapt when they know what the situation demands- issues such as the impact on business of proposed taxes, Obamacare, and the impact of international finances on the U.S. economy. So, who offers the most clarity? That remains the question?
Thanks to: Dr. Gerry Patnode.
5. Opening Up the Vault
Potential small business owners need to know that they have a good shot at securing a small business loan for their start-ups. It's still quite challenging for entrepreneurs to obtain funding and it's really preventing a lot of new businesses from opening.
And, new businesses create jobs.
The banks are sitting on cash. They need to loan some of it out to those that are qualified. No more excuses.
The amount of waste generated by U.S. businesses is earth shattering - literally. For starters, between 14 million to 20 million PCs are dumped each year. Nature does not know the concept of waste; the only species capable of making something no one desires is the human species. Mother Nature has her limits and we are fast approaching them.
7. Small Business Suffers
The single biggest issue for small business owners is rising taxes - tax rates, Obamacare. One of my small business clients tells me his "taxes" are increasing 150k next year-less money to re-invest in the company for new equipment, upgrades, and new employees. It may even lead to him cutting the number of employees. He just emerged from the great-recession, cutting expenses to the bone. The only place to "give" is labor costs - his (and most small business) highest expense line item.
8. More Responsible than You?
A small business has to live within its income and not pile up big debts. The federal government, however, is not acting in this way. The debt keeps rising and small businesses are going to have to pay a portion of that bill. It is hard enough to pay our bills without having to pay the bills of others who refused to make hard decisions, balance the budget and pay off the debt. Please get the country's finances in order so that I can focus on mine and those we employ.
9. Costs Can Cost You
While tax write-offs are an invaluable tool for small business owners to take steps towards growth, overall, it costs so much to run a business. Government needs to recognize this and create incentives that reward business growth and allow for new hires and sharing of healthcare cost burdens. Many incentives reward large firms, while small business is penalized for simply being small. Even a home office may employ sub-contract workers. This all helps the economy and should be understood as such.
10. It's Aggregate Demand, Stupid!
Aggregate demand has been drastically decreased by trillions of dollars due to the loss of millions of jobs to offshoring/globalization, the collapse in housing prices, stagnant or declining worker earnings and small business profits, and China's cheating with respect to the fixing of the US/China exchange rate. The economy will not improve until aggregate demand is stimulated by massive public works projects, pressure on China, and support of high pay "green energy jobs" that can't be exported.
11. End the Gridlock in Congress
Compromise is how we get things done and solve our country's problems - at every level and for every sector, including small business. That's how Congress used to operate. We, the people, have to demand that they go back to working for our country's good.
12. Tax Code Changes Looming
One concern looming among small business owners like myself is what changes the election will bring to the tax codes in place now. The constant undertow of the unstable economy for the last four and half to five years, depending on who you ask, creates less and less optimism for everyone. A corner must be turned and soon, or small business owners will be forced to make critical decisions beyond what has helped them survive to this point.
13. Tax Hikes on Small Businesses
One of the main issues for me this election is taxes on small businesses. My decision will be highly based on whether or not the candidate will push over the ‘’little guys’’ in business and make it harder for small businesses to succeed. I am looking for the candidate that will keep our taxes low and offer incentives on things such as hiring new employees and doing our part in growing our economy.
The single biggest issue facing small businesses in America is uncertainty. It's directly related to this election because until we know who the President will be and what his policies are (e.g. taxes), it's hard to make short-term, much less long-term, plans.
Small businesses can deal with almost any obstacle, but they need to know what those challenges are. Most small business owners just want to know what the rules are, and then want the government to get out of the way and let us run.
15. Job Creation Training
If we want a thriving America tomorrow, we need to nurture entrepreneurs today. How? Public education should offer Entrepreneur 101 to EVERY high school student in America!
High schools, colleges and universities are NOT providing necessary success skills. Education reform needs to include entrepreneur training!
16. Small Business Must Survive!
There HAS to be a 10% increase from giant corporations and government contracts to WBE and SBA organizations. SBAs are struggling to survive. Why? Small firms represent 99.7% of all employer firms and employ half of all private sector employees. They generated 65% of net new jobs of the past 17 years. There are limited opportunities provided by the government and Fortune 500. It’s lip service. SBAs need some true help from the goliaths to ensure consistent growth, long term sustainability.
17. Meeting Your Business Goals?
Uncertainty! Many customers have delayed large or discretionary purchases until they gain more clarity. They are uncertain about the economy, job market, housing recovery, and their retirement prospects. Mainstream businesses that can demonstrate that their products or services can save time or money are expanding even in lean times. Businesses that rebundle their products and services to
offer more perceived value are meeting their goals. What can you add to your mix to provide more value?
18. FDA, You Were WRONG!
As a surgeon with 60 plus years of experience, I have seen how an overburdensome FDA regulatory process can squelch not only innovation but the entrepreneurship which normally follows. This theme is echoed in Sen. Rand Paul's new book, Government Bullies. My new book, FDA, You Were WRONG! exposes the broken processes within the FDA that have not only destroyed my company and others, but which have also brought great harm to millions of suffering TMJ patients.
Restore innovation now!
19. The New Cost of Employees!
Employees will be costing employers more than ever before. With Obama Care being implemented, look for huge increases in employee cost, compliance cost and regulations being implemented each year- over 120 new agencies to comply with and hundreds of new regulations for both small and large business.
20. Support Small Business
What America needs is support and incentives for small business to hire and grow. Years ago, Canada had a program to hire and train young people free of charge for four months. I hired many which helped my business to grow and prepared them for careers with an official resume and recommendation letter. The length of the program was cut back until there was nothing left. Now, young people can't find jobs because they don't have experience and small businesses can't afford to hire and train.
21. Stop Spending Other People's $
Everyone is in debt--our country, our small businesses, American consumers. It's a problem of mentality and it's a problem that may have short-term benefits of liquidity, but grows into the long-term pain of repayment and interest. Changing the conversation and actions around debt, starting at the highest levels and moving down to the consumer, is what needs to happen to strengthen the economy. A little debt may be fine, but leveraging our entire lives gets very problematic.
22. The Silent Health Care Issue
A miracle: A perfect solution for ObamaCare. Is our health care system really changed? No! People enter the health care delivery system- a state responsibility for two reasons: all medical care is local and states license doctors. Problem: Every state’s health care delivery system is unorganized and dysfunctional. Current efforts seek to save money. A functional state health care delivery system will save both lives and money. Our current focus for health care change is myopic.
23. Health Insurance - Sick of It
It may not be creative, but I believe helping small biz owners acquire health insurance at the same "buying power" as big companies would be helpful.
In Illinois, Lennie Rose of The Big Ooga and lobbyists have been trying to setup a non-profit insurance co-op on the state level. Yet somehow, the big players get their own laws passed since they buy out the legislators.
My options appear limited or I am uninformed, despite my best efforts. I'm sick of it.
Do you know another election-related issue facing small businesses that wasn’t included? If you do, please share it below. And as always, many thanks to everyone that contributed to this article!