While small business is often heralded as a major catalyst for improving our economy, the small business community rarely ever gets to contribute their voice in shaping the policies that would best help to spark their own growth, and consequently, the economy at large. So, in an effort to give that voice to the small business community, I have reached out to the wonderful CarolRoth.com contributor network of business owners, experts, advisors and entrepreneurs to find out what policies they think would best help small business growth. 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. *Please note that the opinions listed below reflect those of the individuals that contributed them and may not reflect the opinions of Carol Roth or the CarolRoth.com staff and affiliates.
1. Offer Tax Incentives
If the government wants to help companies trying to hire more employees and bring manufacturing back to America, they have to put their money where their mouth is and offer larger tax incentives. We returned the whole rubber duck industry back to America where it began to be the only ones making them here once again at a great financial risk. The tax credits were virtually nothing. Companies cannot justify hiring people if the government isn't a partner in some substantial and meaningful way!
2. Entrepreneur Certification
New Rule for Entrepreneurs- “Lifetime Entrepreneur Certification”: a 12 month series of classes on topics that range from business structure for growth, financial forecasting, sales, marketing, public relations, management and leadership. Vision- take 2-5 years off of the ‘becoming successful’ curve. Launch more effectively, sell more products/services, hire employees quicker, kick ass in business and build and maintain a solid, cash-making business.
3. Grow Jobs by Growing Exports
Exports supported approximately 9.7 million U.S. jobs in 2011, thanks to the 97 percent of all exporters that are small businesses. Create more U.S. jobs by opening new foreign markets with free trade agreements so that small businesses can export American-made goods, allowing them to grow and hire U.S. workers. Since small businesses are our job creators, the most effective jobs program is one that helps small businesses thrive - and it starts with a program that encourages exporting.
4. Spend to Create Jobs
The government must spend $ on things such as infrastructure. Companies get projects, order materials, factories produce the materials, trucks start deliveries, everyone is hiring workers - both in the field & in the office, sub-contractors go back to work - working people pay taxes, mortgages, buy products and thus, the factories get busier. An upward cycle!
5. Imposing "Right to Work" Laws
More states need to impose "Right to Work" laws. For example, in Minnesota, anyone looking to be employed by a union workplace is required to join that union. The Right to Work law changes that and gives the employee a choice. It's hard enough to get a job, but when you find one that you may want or can get, to then be required to join that union seems unfair. Many people are being forced into a union job, regardless of their appreciation or understanding of what unions do and don't do.
6. Small Business Tax Incentives
We need to reduce the friction for young entrepreneurs trying to get businesses off the ground. To go global, you need marketing resources and capital and being constrained with high taxes does not help!
Larger corporations can take on bigger taxation, where as there should be incentives for more people to want to innovate and create value around the US and world.
7. Wrap Pols in Red Tape, Not Us
Shrink Government - grow business
To help small businesses:
1. Repeal Obamacare and move to a plan that simply allows sales cross State lines, favors mostly catastrophic plans and allows individuals the tax advantages that employers have.
2. Repeal the minimum wage. The market will determine this. If someone won't pay a decent wage, no one will work for them.
3. Repeal state minimum corporation taxes.
4. Repeal most licensing laws. For ex: hair-braiders should not require a cosmetology license.
8. Predictable Regulatory Sched.
I am proposing placing the effective dates of state regulations on a predictable, quarterly schedule so that small business can plan ahead and be better informed of new laws.
9. Lessen Regulations
Fewer rules & regulations will help small business owners grow and enable more hiring. Business owners must spend time innovating and growing the business. Hiring requirements are overly burdensome. From information collection and EINs to 1099s, banking, withholding & payroll requirements, handbooks - and now extensive health insurance requirements, laws and regulations make hiring a nightmare. Laws should be simplified, not expanded. "Less is more" when it comes to business rules and laws.
10. Customs Doesn't Like Baskets?
I wish for a small biz-friendly US Customs! I design, import & sell baskets handwoven in Morocco. About 4% of all containers are inspected by US Customs, but my containers have been inspected about 60% of the time (from an xray to an "intensive exam"). The intensive exam costs me thousands, a month delay, and almost put me out of business. I get the need to secure US ports. But I don't understand why my containers are examined so often, when they just contain baskets!
11. Attitude Adjustment Needed
As a former elected official and state legislature aide I’d say it is changing the attitude of many government enforcement bureaucrats. The bureaucrat is often focused on his/her fiefdom and issuing a penalty, rather than obtaining the real goals, which are compliance and safety. The top leaders must change this culture. Small businesses pay the salaries of the bureaucrats, yet businesses are often seen as the bad guys who need to be hounded. This unnecessary hassle costs the economy billions.
12. Finally Helping Job Creation
To create sustained job growth, the president must gain the trust of the job creation class. He can do this by giving SMBs a seat at the table by appointing an independent commission - one with real teeth like the base closure commission - that will have the power to both examine and roll back excess government regulation. SMBs would be required to: specify the excesses, propose viable solutions and demonstrate measurable benefits. This will help build real trust and sustained job creation.
13. Internet Tax Will Level Field
Despite the initial price rises, the advent of MFA will be good news for customers, as a fair system for commerce and will lead to greater choice
for consumers. Local "mom & pop" stores or new local start ups will be able to compete online with more geographically "tax optimized" large businesses. Many of these small businesses will bring higher levels of innovation and service to the market, providing better value and choice for consumers. What is good for customers is good for business.
14. Tax Advantage for Small Biz
Congress now has an opportunity to help both charitable organizations and the small business community:
The Charitable Contribution Parity & Enhancement Act – H.R. 2592.
If passed, this bill would provide tax incentives to over 3 million of the nation’s small businesses – most of which are S corporations – to donate their excess inventory to struggling charities throughout the country.
Gary C. Smith of NAEIR
15. Keep the Wheels Moving
The government seems to tax all revenue, after expenses and employee salaries are paid out, as if it were the small business owner's salary. While it blocks the ill-intentioned, it also thwarts growth in equity. Altering this in some regard (perhaps creating breaks for those that declare they will reinvest a certain percentage back), would allow small businesses to build up their own equity and spend more in the following year on products/services/hires, thereby spreading the wealth even more.
16. Student Visa to Entrepreneur
One of the things which the US Government can do to aid in the growth of Small Businesses is to continue to update Immigration Laws. Foreign individuals who have previously been issued a US Student Visa and wish to stay in the Country with the intent to open a business offer a great opportunity to help our Country create jobs. While S. 744 was passed a year ago, the minimum financial requirements an investor must make to qualify for Visas are still out of reach for many young Foreign Nationals.
17. Let People Work!
The laws regarding independent contractors need to be reviewed and exemptions for certain trades be made. In particular, free lance makeup artists who want to work as a demonstrator for various companies on an occasional basis are, by the current laws in most states, not allowed independent contractor status because they are told where and when to be somewhere and get trained on the product. This is preventing specialty skilled people from working and causing an undue burden on small businesses.
18. Internet Pirates Steal Jobs
Piracy of copyrighted property and trademarks of small businesses is growing exponentially. We file 500-1000 complaints a week with Google, but within a few days, the pirates are back. New laws and legislation need to be enacted by the US government. Google basically owns a virtual super mall that it alone controls. Google gives known pirates top SEO status. Verifying that a company website owns the products being sold or the legal right to sell the products would reduce piracy.
19. Increase Bank Transparency
As part of financial reform, Congress asked the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to write new rules on small business lending. We believe the rules should require banks to be more transparent about their lending. Better data will increase access for communities and small business owners. Our December 2013 report on small business lending found a 60% drop in lending from 2006 to 2013 in California. Increased transparency will lead to more access to capital, more jobs and a stronger economy.
20. Stuck in Second Gear
I think that the number ONE thing that could be done for small business is to make it easier, cheaper, and much less paperwork to hire your first employee. Many people including myself are stuck at a point where we need 1-2 employees, but the cost, insurance and additional paperwork and liability make this impossible, so we can't grow our businesses. For many of us, getting a break on the first 1-2 employees would transform our businesses and allow them to grow exponentially.
21. Reduce Taxes
Lower taxes would make a noticeable difference much faster than a round of cutting red tape. Governments always seem to be pledging some sort of efficiency drive, but improvements, if any materialize, are slow to be instituted. Cutting taxes on small businesses would free up cash flow, boost confidence and give businesses more impetus to invest in research and development, make capital investments, take on new staff, increase wages, or just get rid of more debt and shore up the bottom line.
22. Innovation Via SBIR
I think that the government can help small businesses by increasing the percentage of funds dedicated to SBIR grants in key areas of national challenge such as healthcare (to name just one area, but one with which I am familiar). Small business — the cradle of job creation — can drive innovations in the use of information technology. Low-cost wireless point-of-care devices can help improve access to healthcare for millions of people, care delivery, outcomes, and skyrocketing healthcare costs.
23. If You Educate Me, I Will Win!
One of the most pressing issues facing any small business is finances. For, it is the finances that determine the viability of a business and whether or not the business can sustain. Without a healthy revenue stream, business options are limited, and the ability to hire is almost non-existent.
So, the key for policy makers is not simply in creating or implementing new tax breaks or expanding hiring incentives--the key lies in educating firms on how to effectively use what is already available.
24. Invest in Education
Small businesses need workers with basic literacy and math skills. Too many small business owners -- myself included -- report that they have trouble finding workers with basic skills.
The single best thing that the government can do to assist small businesses is to invest in early childhood education. This would lead to a better prepared workforce in which employers would not need to provide remedial education on the job.
25. Everyone Can Be Entrepreneurs
I think that the government should support programs that teach entrepreneurship to young people by addressing social problems. Ask kids "What is a need you see in your school, community, or the world at large?" Then, teach the students about entrepreneurship by addressing these problems.
Do you know another political policy that would help boost small business growth? If you do, please share it below. And as always, many thanks to everyone that contributed to this article!