Policymakers should embrace small businesses

Entrepreneurs launch their small businesses for many reasons.

Some start their companies because they have a dream of turning their passion into a thriving enterprise. The love of community also can prompt folks to start neighborhood businesses with the goal of hiring local employees. Many small business owners believe by starting their own companies, they can become financially independent and positively impact others. Businesses also are born because entrepreneurs yearn to control their own destiny while building something that can support themselves and their families.

For most small business owners, their entrepreneurial adventure includes lines of credit, extremely long hours and personal debt. In addition, many small businesses fail their first year and a staggering number do not reach the five-year mark. Business owners understand the challenges they face when making the bold decision to open a small business. They enthusiastically knuckle down, buckle up and fight to succeed.

Because small businesses begin as underdogs, whose success and growth can create jobs and support local communities, it is difficult to understand why some policymakers treat them with skepticism.

It’s also tough to fathom how some politicians simply can overlook the challenges facing small businesses that create jobs and support their communities.

Legislation often tosses all businesses into a single bucket, from micro-businesses to large enterprises. Laws may include draconian fines and penalties for honest mistakes that when assessed against small businesses, can be devastating. Certain laws, rules and regulations also include arduous and difficult record keeping requirements that cost small businesses unnecessary time and money. Simply put, too often the small business community’s perspective and insight is lacking when legislation is passed.

The good news is that things seem to be changing as small businesses galvanize, engage with political champions, and speak with a unified voice. By harnessing the power of critical mass, together we will push for this trend to continue.

Hyperbolic and bombastic messaging, however, will not get the job done. We must focus on reminding policymakers that small business owners start as underdogs that one day can be big contributors to local communities.

We must stress that being pro-small business goes hand-and-glove with being pro-employee because policies that makes it difficult for small businesses to succeed may cost people their jobs. Conversely, policies that provide certainty and eliminate hurdles for small businesses create jobs and foster economic growth.

Readers of this column know we are fighting for numerous policies that will support the small business community this spring. They address staffing shortages, leveling the playing field for small companies and the impact rising property taxes have on small businesses that own their properties.

We also are working to implement a law requiring government agencies to analyze the impact of new rules and regulations and explore changes to minimize the impact on small businesses.

Together, let’s continue to fight for policies that support and empower the gritty underdogs that encompass the small business community. Let’s continue calling on policymakers to join us.

• Elliot Richardson is co-founder and president of the Small Business Advocacy Council.

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