When you run a small business, your employees look to you to make the decisions that keep the company solvent and, hopefully, growing. The goal is for all of us to have a more secure and prosperous future.
It’s a weighty responsibility and not always easy. You get to know the families of the people who work for you, and when you have to make cuts, it hurts your heart. When it’s necessary, you try to do the things that will hit the smallest number of people in the least impactful way.
Over the last few years, we’ve had to eliminate the company match on our 401(k) plan, cut down on overtime hours, and ask veteran employees to contribute a small amount to their health insurance coverage. Doing so helped us put the toughest of times behind us (we hope) without laying anyone off.
Our team has come through this stronger, with most of us wishing that Congress would spend less time talking about the importance of small business and more time paying attention to what we do to get through the day. Instead of photo opportunities, our elected officials might try talking to us, and listening.
Here are some of the things we would say:
● Small business has never had much access to traditional capital. Stop dreaming about getting it for us now. Before a bank will even consider a credit line, most entrepreneurs use savings, ask their families for help, max out personal credit cards, and if fortunate to own a home, borrow against it. With all those options diminished in a down economy, making the leap from non-traditional to traditional financing is, not surprisingly, tougher.
●We may not always be able to balance our budget, but at least we have to try. There’s no raising the debt ceiling for small businesses in this economy.
●Truth is good for business. Clients and employees alike appreciate ethics and transparency.
●Uncertainty is the enemy. Certainty that nothing is being done that will improve the economy is not a step in the right direction.
●One hundred percent expensing works. It enables small businesses to afford capital investments that would otherwise be impossible. This has a positive significant impact on job creation. It’s a virtually deficit-neutral proposition that ought to become a permanent feature of the tax code for subchapter S corporations.
●If something is not done soon to create a climate which makes it less difficult for job creators to do what needs to be done, we will be having the same conversation about extending unemployment benefits again this year. A payroll tax cut for small businesses would provide the significant jump start small businesses need to fuel job creation.
Congress found money for TARP, stimulus and the auto company bailout. Why not invest in helping small businesses fund job creation?
●For many small business owners who are risking every resource we can muster, it is disheartening to see partisan bickering stalling economic growth.
Remember, you work for us.
Rosina Rubin is chief financial officer of Attitude New York, a chauffeured transportation service based in that city.