It’s About the Small Business Economy, Stupid

  • SumoMe

The past election had a lot of campaign rhetoric about so-called “wars” against women, against this group and against that group.

But there was one “war” that seemed to be largely overlooked in the election: the war against entrepreneurs and small businesses.

In this war, the battle line is pretty clear. Government does not recognize or appreciate the value of entrepreneurship or the vital role small businesses play as the engine of our nation’s economy. Nope, government and politicians see these small businesses as an easy target to financially plunder.

The Business of Politicians

The mindset of many politicians and governments is simple: to reward their supporters and constituencies, they “rob” small businesses with a crushing burden of taxes, licensing fees and over-regulations. In their misguided thinking, politicians think nothing of adding new taxes and red tape to businesses that are already struggling. After all, their priority is government spending.

Unfortunately, most politicians have never run a business. An equal number have never even worked in the private sector. Yet, they make policy, taxation and regulation decisions that can strangle a small business.

I ran a summer camp when I was a teacher. It gave me a taste of entrepreneurship, and I realized how hard it was to run a business, even if it was just for summers. My dad was a Philly cop, and in his later years he invested his own money to start his own business. I came away from those experiences with an even deeper respect and admiration for the entrepreneurs who take the risks to start their own business.

Elected Pick-Pockets

It is a shame that more of our elected government leaders do not have that same respect and appreciation for these risk takers and job creators. Instead, these businesses are viewed as wallets for the government to pick-pocket to pay for their never-ending spending sprees.

I do not think enough politicians recognize that small businesses create jobs. Those jobs strengthen the economic and social fabric of the local community.

You do not need to have an MBA or a Ph.D. in economics to conclude that a community with healthy local businesses will thrive in every single aspect. Better real estate values. Lower crime rates and unemployment. Stronger schools and higher graduation rates.

How does government reward the small business owner? More taxes. More regulations. More licensing fees. And ridiculous amounts of red tape. And when small businesses throw up their hands and say, “enough!” they are scolded by politicians and the public as being “selfish” or “un-American.”

Small Business Taxation is Unsustainable

For instance, some companies have said that they will have to lay off people because they will not be able to afford the costs of the new health care regulations of Obamacare. Instead of sympathy, these business owners are scorned in public. 

It reminds me of sports talk radio when fans and callers question why doesn’t their team sign the big-name free agents, despite their ridiculous salary demands that go into the hundreds of millions of dollars. It’s easy for a sports fan to criticize the decisions of the sports team owner…after all, it’s not their money.

In the past election season we saw a lot of political voting blocs making their collective voices heard- women, minorities, seniors, religious faiths, the Tea Party, Libertarians and Latinos, to name just a few. And that is great- it is important to build coalitions and leverage that influence.

How come small businesses do not have that strong, loud voice when it comes to exerting influence on policy, politicians and at the voting booth?

The Voice of Small Businesses Needs to Be Heard

I would like to suggest that local Chambers of Commerce need to step up in a new way. For me, too many of these chambers have been sleepy, “old boys” clubs more focused on their networking breakfasts, lunches and dinners than aggressively pushing for politicians and policies that help small businesses, not hinder them.

If small businesses continue to be strangled by taxes and other government-imposed costs, those Chamber of Commerce events are going to become very, very intimate because those small businesses will cease to exist, or at the very least, be unable to afford their chamber membership.

Chambers of Commerce have strength in numbers:

  • Their member companies
  • The employees of those businesses
  • The friends and family of those businesses
  • The customers and suppliers of those businesses

That translates to voting power.

Here is the role Chambers of Commerce and other small business organizations should play in terms of mobilizing against politician plunderers:

  • Politicians or elected officials of either party who propose or impose taxes or regulations should be identified and targeted.
  • Use the strength in numbers and let them know that further tax burdens will not be imposed without a fight.
  • Use the media.
  • Organize and mobilize and actively support candidates that will support the concerns of small businesses. Be prepared to put time and money behind candidates that will be a friend to small businesses. Give tax-and-spend politicians a much-deserved pink slip!

You have to be prepared to roll up your sleeves and do some hard work. You won’t accomplish this milling about at a chamber lunch or after-hours networking event.

If you are a small business and you belong to a Chamber, it’s time you start getting your money’s worth. Small businesses are under attack, and it’s time for small business owners to organize, mobilize and make their voices heard.

Because, to paraphrase James Carville’s brilliant campaign strategy from the 1992 election, “it’s the small business economy, stupid.”

Tell me your thoughts and ideas how we can make elected officials more accountable to the challenges and concerns of small businesses.

10 Responses to It’s About the Small Business Economy, Stupid

  1. Dave November 17, 2012 at 9:59 pm #

    Prior to Nov. 6, I felt sympathy for Obama supporters who lost their jobs or otherwise suffered economically. My ability to sympathize has evaporated.

  2. Dan Hazley November 17, 2012 at 10:16 pm #

    Dom, we don’t always agree…as I find myself more independent mnded. That said I need to applaud you on this piece. You hit on some key points. I can say, I see fault in BOTH parties, the Dems think we are loaded and living high on the hog, while the Repubs have more of our interests at heart, but in the end they will simply poop us out as their bigger concern lies with those larger entities that are able to contribute. The system as its currently structured thrives on pitting business’ of like specialties against one another…to a fault. We’re so hungry for the job that in order to get it we lower our number to a point of break even. In Philly, they don’t go after the Unlicensed, Unregistered Contractors working out of their truck doing CASH ONLY jobs. They focus only on those who are responsible enough to start the registration process. Finally, great call out on the Chamber of Commerce…they have never…EVER reached out to my business in anyway to participate in the 8 years I’ve been struggling.

    • Dom November 17, 2012 at 10:34 pm #

      I have spoken at various Chambers across the region. They seem to be content to organize events, but less so when it comes to advocacy and action. And by action, I mean more than putting out an occasional and tepid press release.

      I also believe the Republican party should focus on being the party of SMALL BUSINESS, not just the party of Big Business. When it comes to political/government support, small businesses are the ones that truly need it. And I have never heard of a small business CEO taking an astronomical, ridiculous salary. If they even do take a salary, most of the profits goes back into sustaining and growing their business. Too many corporate CEOs make decisions solely based on earning a bigger bonus or trying to boost stock price to maximize their stock options.

  3. Kevin November 17, 2012 at 11:59 pm #

    I agree with you,… most Chambers and other small biz associations are clueless.

    It’s usually the same group of (typically older) members that do not try to grow their associations, and thus do not learn how to grow their businesses.

    I have consulted with a few, and I just leave the meeting scratching my head in awe and amazement about how ‘dumb’ some of these people are.

    The term I am always leave them with is, “You don’t know what you don’t know.”

    Small businesses are the lifeblood of our country & economy.

  4. larry cohen November 18, 2012 at 8:44 am #

    I fully agree with Dom but we need to ” put a face on the small businessman”
    because we are losing ” the emotional battle ” .

    They always show a struggling woman who needs more
    money in her paycheck from Walmart .

    We must keep showing
    a woman struggling to keep her restaurant afloat
    and raise her family and the taxes are putting her out of business.

    Since Joey Vento died we can’t even name a businessman
    hero right here in Phila.

    We must bring forward ” heros of small business ”
    and they have to become household names by going
    on talk radio.

  5. Will November 18, 2012 at 2:54 pm #

    The past election had a lot of campaign rhetoric about so-called “wars” against women, against this group and against that group.

    If you are in the group that receives what do you care. There are emerging 2 groups the makers and the takers. There is becoming more people in the wagon than pulling it. The people pulling are becoming discouraged and the people in the wagon are getting more comfortable as time passes.
    1. You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity by legislating the wealthy out of prosperity.
    2. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving.
    3. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else.
    people in the wagon get more comfortable as time goes by.

  6. FrustratedTruthPromoter November 18, 2012 at 6:18 pm #

    The only credible small business presidential candidate that we had this year in the Republican primary was Gary Johnson. He launched a one man handyman business out of college and sold it as the largest contractor in New Mexico ten years later. His business created more jobs than Romney. He then became a two term popular governor in a tough Democratic State and never stopped talking about the needs of small businesses, individuals, and the middle class.

    Even though we had a good candidate with Johnson, Republicans shoved an unelectable big business, big government candidate down our throats. He had been an unpopular one term governor who promoted the most despicable small business killer of any other candidate – RomneyCare.

    To rub salt in the wound, opinion leaders tried to create the illusion that the Republican choice had a chance to win. But he lost by an electoral landslide. It is hard to understand why anyone was willing to waste their vote on a Democrat in Republican clothes.

    The real question should be, how do we stop the Republicans, commentators, and talk show hosts from shooting themselves in the foot by pushing “moderates” who do not have solutions that are any different than Democrats on the most important economic issues?

    I have the answer.

    Promote the truth.

    Anyone who tries to give the illusion that a big government candidate has any value should be considered unpatriotic. Anyone who tries to give the illusion that the one party monopoly system offers a choice when there is no choice should be considered unpatriotic. And anyone who ignores third parties, should be considered unpatriotic in those elections where they offer the only acceptable candidates.

    It is always a wasted vote to vote for an unelectable big government candidate.

  7. larry cohen November 18, 2012 at 8:34 pm #

    I don’t want to criticize the last poster
    who calls himself FrustratedTruthPromoter .

    I get tremendously frustrated myself
    and I am sure we agree on many things.

    But the thought that Tom Corbett is not totally
    different and better then Ed Rendell is just plain wrong.

    I share the posters frustration though on many
    election outcomes .

    • FrustratedTruthPromoter November 18, 2012 at 9:21 pm #


      In my post, I was not referring to Corbett. He has some valuable small business sense.

      Instead, I referred to the Republican Party’s and opinion leader’s no compromise support of an unelectable candidate (Romney).

      We also have several congressional challengers and state legislative challengers in the same category of Democrats who are unelectable because they run as Republicans.

      For extra credit reading, I have provided a link:

  8. Will November 21, 2012 at 11:35 am #

    This election should have been a referendum on the presidents record over the last 4 years. The president however was successful in making his base of big government we will take care of you because somehow things are not fair etc etc etc. it worked. Somehow you are a victim of (fill in the blank)

    I am always amused when they talk about the rich or wealthy or top earners. Those rich guys.
    It is like those rich guys woke up one morning and money fell from the sky into their lap.

    Maybe they should read the biographies of some of those rich guys and how they got to be rich.
    Sam Walton is a particularly good example.

Leave a Reply