As I always say, small businesses are the backbone of the economy. However, they don’t often get the appropriate platform to have their concerns or needs voiced and as a result, are often over-burdened or all-together ignored by the powers that be. So, since we are smack-dab in the middle of the 2016 election primaries, I have asked the CarolRoth.com contributor network of business owners, experts, advisors and entrepreneurs to share what they would like the next president to do to help small businesses succeed and thrive. 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.
1. Reduce Regulation and Flourish
It's difficult to open a lemonade stand these days. The amount of regulation is overwhelming. Even the most creative and innovative individual will hesitate. We continue to rank lower and lower on the economic freedom world scale. It brings uncertainty to long term businesses. Things like healthcare, banking, taxes and more make us timid to invest in people, equipment and growth. I suggest the president eliminate many current regulations and every time one is added, one must be eliminated.
2. Support American Made!
The way to help build our economy is to find a way to help American industries compete with foreign manufacturers. Overseas manufacturers get many government subsidies, allowing them to manufacture products for less. But the product quality of USA goods can compete with anyone. We need our President to support US manufacturing by offering tax incentives to those companies making the investment in bringing industry back home. We successfully did it and there will be a lot more with presidential support!
3. Simplifying Business Tax Code
From my 10+ years of entrepreneurial experience, it's never been more difficult to file taxes due to the increasing health care regulations associated with Obamacare. It's become almost impossible (borderline suicidal) for small business owners to do their own taxes. Accounting fees are now skyrocketing, especially for entrepreneurs like myself that own multiple businesses. We need the next President to simplify the business tax code substantially and replace it with a more efficient option.
4. Just One Tax Needed
My most annoying overhead is tax compliance and I believe a national retail tax based on consumption, not production, would help me.
One libertarian think tank came up with the Fair Tax. No more FICA or federal income tax. Simply put, you keep what you earn and pay 23% on consumption. I am not punished for capital gains or taxed on my labor.
Freeing my income allows me to pay off debts faster and frees it for capital expenditures.
K Street is the only barrier.
5. Making Business Better
Any new President--of either party--simply MUST understand what makes business work--especially small business.
We've had multiple years of an administration of bureaucrats and appointees who have never met a payroll, have never written a business or marketing plan and who don't understand the basics of entrepreneurship or business ownership. This is what has led to debacles like the Obamacare website and "You didn't build that".
Let's hope for better days ahead.
6. Make Our Lives Easier!
The best thing government can do for entrepreneurs is to support us by making it easier to take professional risks. That means creating middle class tax cuts, helping make childcare more affordable, making college educations more accessible, and properly regulating lending practices. When individuals and families thrive, so too does entrepreneurship.
7. Tax Code - Make it Easy!
Tax compliance is challenging for small-business owners. We must cope with new tax requirements and rules, and are concerned about suffering penalties if they are not compliant.
Large corporations have tax experts and resources on hand to manage today's complex tax laws or even to fully take advantage of all the tax breaks available. An easy first step for our new President is to replace the “Accrual Method” of accounting to “Cash Based” for all businesses under $20 Million in revenue.
8. Be the Encourager-In-Chief
The next President doesn't need to change any laws or suggest new policies. He or she needs to foster entrepreneurship by encouraging Americans to start businesses. People need to hear from the country's most important motivator that our economy NEEDS them.
9. Back Off
The next president needs to stay out of our way and recognize that we are the ones who create jobs--not Washington. Get off our backs with taxes so we can use that money to hire more people rather than steal our money to support bloated government waste that does nothing but drag down America's global status. In sum, the next president needs to put an end to the destructive "spread the wealth" mentality that serves to destroy entrepreneurship.
10. Make Growth Easier
We want our next president to make it simpler for the entrepreneur to grow. One way to accomplish this is to make it easier to hire and pay employees.
Employees are expensive. Workman's comp, unemployment insurance, and health care are all factors to consider when hiring an employee.
Find ways like rebates or tax credits to lessen the financial blow.
11. Presidential Payroll Pardon
Our biggest national embarrassment is our high unemployment.
The lack of job growth is largely driven by the oppressive government regulations that disproportionately hurt small businesses (small businesses employ 53% of the private sector workforce and 99% of the employing organizations are small businesses).
So, how can we get people back to work?
I say institute a "Payroll Pardon".
Eliminate the employer portion of payroll taxes for every small business' full time employee.
12. Standardize Licensing
Doctors, teachers, healthcare practitioners, acupuncturists and many other professionals have to pay licensing fees to each state and take tests to practice in each state. That's ridiculous. Professionals should have to pay just one standardized fee and be licensed nationally. Period.
13. Shoot for the Moon
The best thing the new president can do is articulate a simple, concrete, common goal that unifies and rallies small business to big achievement. A big goal will summon the innovation for which small business is best suited. The big question for the next president is: "What is the next Man-on-the-Moon goal?"
14. Cut Taxes on Small Businesses!
I would hope our next President would lower taxes on small businesses. Most small businesses are paying high corporate or personal income tax rates, far higher than exist almost anywhere else in the world. The owners of these businesses don’t have a huge net worth. The answer is very simple: cut those rates. It's not fair to have small businesses in many states give government one-half of their earnings. It also prevents them from growing their enterprises.
15. Push for Connectivity Growth
We provide equipment rental solutions for small construction businesses often operating in areas with poor connectivity & cell service. Upgrading networks would be a huge boost. It would allow us to serve more small businesses who need access to technology and keep them in pace with innovation. It would also benefit those trying to start a company, even in remote areas of the country. Our next President can push for laws that encourage connectivity growth, a huge win for small businesses.
16. Tax Rewards for Small Business
If our next president could wave a magic wand, I'd wish that he or she would level the playing field for small businesses and create a tax incentive to reward small business owners for their entrepreneurial spirit and all the revenue that is generated for their respective communities and the country. When huge corporations are paying minimal taxes, it seems only fair to reward the "little guy", since small businesses make up the majority share of business throughout the country.
17. Attitude Makes a Difference
The next President needs to celebrate entrepreneurship and innovation and talk about small business as a key to job growth. Then, translate that attitude into policies that encourage business investment--the opposite of telling small business owners "you didn't build that". The President sets a tone and his/her comments affect people's attitudes toward business and how legislation is received by the public. We need a President who understands the sacrifice that goes into building a business.
18. End Employer Based Healthcare
I'd like to see an end to employer-based healthcare. As a small business owner, I pay taxes and also pay significantly for health care just like an employee. Yet, I have to jump through hoops and receive less than optimal care, as many of the best doctors in my area don't accept Marketplace plans. It's estimated that 40 percent of the workforce will be freelance or small business owners by 2020, so relying on employers for group health insurance coverage doesn't make sense anymore!
19. National Business Accelerator
New research conducted by ManageHub and the U.S. Baldrige Performance Excellence Program found most small businesses are unable to scale their operations. As a result, their growth typically plateaus and then declines. Most fail after 15 years in business. Helping small businesses adopt Baldrige-based management practices can have a dramatic impact on the U.S. economy. For example, a 10% reduction in small business failure rates can result in about $16 Billion dollars of federal tax revenues.
20. Address Visa Issues
Help us retain and attract best talent by approving H1B extensions and creating a pathway for workers with the highest skills to work towards permanent residency. We educate and train them. Then, we send them back to create competition that kills us. If Chinese tech giant Huawei was allowed into the US market, Cisco would be wiped out in less than one year. Mr. Kalanick, CEO of Uber, predicts that in the next five years "China [will] Soon Surpass Silicon Valley" in innovation and entrepreneurship.
21. Incentives for Small Business
Small business is the economic engine of our country. Business owners need an environment where they can grow their businesses by innovating - investing in their business, their people & creating jobs. Government incentives are slanted towards big business. The next president needs to promote the growth of small business by getting rid the of legislative red tape, reducing tax burdens, and reforming health care so that it's affordable & provides effective incentives for small business to grow.
22. Lower Taxes for Businesses
One thing the next President can do to really help companies is to lower business taxes. By this, I mean taxes that small businesses pay which can hit their profits. I believe corporations should pay their fair share of taxes like all other businesses, but I think if it is done at a fair rate, then employees can be paid more and companies can use more of their earnings to put back into growing their businesses more.
23. Easy Business Means Easy $$$
By making business easy makes for easy $$$ and grows the local economy. This requires removing many of the compliance costs for small businesses that amount to nearly $5,000 per employee per year. Keeping taxes low also helps small business owners, as well as their customers who now have more disposable income. Small businesses and entrepreneurs work hard for every profit dollar. Profits toward unnecessary compliance and taxes hurt not only them, but the economy as well.
24. Promote Global Cooperation
With the power of the internet, we see more opportunities for entrepreneurs to work with their foreign counterparts. That can be anything from checking out potential suppliers in other countries to using local knowledge to help one another grow overseas. Talk of divisions between races and religions is a threat to building stronger links in the future. The way we go about it will either bind us together as a global business community or risk isolating us in our local economies.
25. Let Business Do Business
Our next President could positively impact small business and entrepreneurship by freeing up Big Business to start investing in growth. Bad government policy has created uncertainty in our economy. Freeing up the capital sitting on the sidelines will strengthen productivity, encourage industry and help the U.S. economy realize its full potential.
Business needs the confidence that the government will support, not penalize, our efforts. We need to hear this from our President.
26. Cut the Red Tape
The ONE thing that the next president could do: cut the red tape.
27. Live the American Dream
Small businesses and entrepreneurship are the heartbeat of America. Historically, it was the means for people to finally live their American Dream. I ask you to allow people easier access to achieve the American Dream by making it easier to start businesses. Create simpler solutions to get grants and loans. Allow small businesses easier access to apply or bid.
28. Drive Their Business
The only way any business, small or big, can succeed & thrive is if they continue to grow. The next president needs to enact programs that put people to work - such as re-building the infrastructure. The bottom line - if people are working, they are buying & spending. Businesses start selling - factories increase production, trucks are rolling, more people are put back to work & the upward cycle starts spiraling. It's called trickle up!
29. Missed Opportunity
We are a very unusual business, however the single hurdle we face constantly is the brutal amount of protectionism that the US Federal and State government have. While the internet is expanding and making the market more efficient, the government thinks that protectionism will work... Money always goes where it is treated best and the cost associated with protectionism will only slow down the inevitable. The Quill Doctrine needs to be enhanced & net neutrality.
30. Leave Innovation to the Market
Our next President should recognize that businesses innovate best and are able to compete globally with little regulation and interference by government. Businesses survive and thrive when left to compete via open market forces that hold them accountable to consumers and customers rather than political directives or interests.
31. Reorient the Core Curriculum
Many people will focus on tax breaks and incentives, but I have a different answer: improving the country’s education. As a tech entrepreneur in the process of building a team, there are crucial roles that have remained vacant for over a year in my company because we can’t find the right combination of technical skills. I’d like the new President to appoint an education task force that focuses on reorienting the curriculum to the jobs needed today: applied math, data analysis, and coding.
32. Everyone Should Have a 401K
Work opportunities are becoming more and more non-traditional. One critical thing the next President can do is make sure that Contractors in Corporate America and other "gig" businesses that promote full-time hours can contribute to a 401K Plan. Companies are hiring more 1099-type staff. With accounting expenses being saved, the ability to save for retirement, just as the full-time employees can, is fair to those who work hard contributing to the bottom line. It is a win-win for everyone.
33. Less is More
My opinion is that the function of government is to create and nurture an environment where business can thrive, create jobs and grow; not the other way around. I conducted a brief poll on LinkedIn on the subject and the results were… not surprisingly, similar. The essence of the responses are that it’s not so much a matter of what the new president can ‘do', but more of what they can ‘stop’ doing. Things like less regulations and costs that are driving business and jobs out of the country.
34. Level the Playing Field
Introduce 0% tax burden for any business in its first 3 years. Allow easier borrowing of capital for small businesses from sources other than traditional banks, especially like peer-to-peer lending.
As an individual, if I believe in someone’s business and want to lend that business some money, there should be a proper support system and government protection for such programs in place for that. It could be something similar to the FDIC insurance that banks have.
Mansi Singhal of qplum
35. Help With Healthcare Costs
I would really like the next president to drive healthcare insurance costs down. Trying to operate a small business in New York with some of the highest healthcare costs in the nation presents a real challenge. Healthcare is my 2nd largest expense, after salaries, and consistently has the highest percentage increases year over year. With lower costs, I could hire more people and pay higher wages to my existing employees. In either case, it is a win/win.
36. This is Holding Many Back
I would like to see the new President do two things.
1. Make all mortgages assumable with the same qualifications as a new mortgage. If institutions can buy or trade mortgages, why can't everyone?
2. Discontinue compound interest. Simple interest is OK for autos; it should be fine for mortgages. When asked what was the most powerful force in the universe, Albert Einstein said "Compound Interest".
While these are not specific to business, it would enable many to buy and run small businesses.
37. Open Trade to Cuba
I would like to see more opportunities to expand international interaction without too much governmental regulation. Let the trade routes and contacts be expanded for small businesses in Cuba. There are some amazing opportunities awaiting so many US based companies there, we just need our government and new president to take a less dominant role to let the possibilities flow.
Myles Miller of LeadUP
38. Lead With Substance
We need to expect excellence from America and that starts with the president.
We're the greatest country in the history of mankind, but we spend so much energy attacking each other that we can't even TALK about ISIS, the economy, or any other serious issue because our "leaders" are shooting spitballs at each other.
Do you have something that you want the next president to do for small business that wasn’t included? If you do, please share it below. And as always, many thanks to everyone that contributed to this article!