Focus on Politics

Jim Blasingame

This is the eighth article in a series dealing with small business operating fundamentals. This one is about politics and small business public policy.

How could politics be an operating fundamental? Well, how is your business affected when Congress raises the minimum wage, or an agency imposes a new regulation?

Politics definitely influences your small business. Your choice is either contribute to the debate and help shape laws and policies that affect you, or take what you’re given by policymakers who could rightly assume you don’t care.

For starters, know who your local, state and federal elected representatives are, and contact them about the issues that are important to you.

Every year these officials participate in passing laws and statutes, plus establish regulations and mandates that affect your business. Unfortunately, too often, the effect is negative.

Here are two reasons why it’s naïve to expect policymakers to act intuitively in the best interest of small business:

1. Far too many have never made a payroll, and consequently, know little or nothing about the challenges small business owners face.

2. The political voice of small business is not as loud and influential as other groups.

Your involvement will help to fix this disparity. But in addition to identifying small business issues to policy makers, we also have to educate them about those issues.

For congressional representatives, a good place to start is to find out how they voted on laws that affect small business. Congratulate them on a good small business voting record. If the record is bad, remind them that you’re not happy about it. You can find the voting records at the two Web sites below.

Some issues you know, like lower taxes, less regulations, and industry specific issues.

Some issues are more obscure, like laws that lead to regulations and mandates that insidiously suck precious working capital out of small businesses.

Did you know that, according to the SBA, regulatory compliance costs each small business almost $7,000 per employee annually? That’s almost twice as much as large businesses. Need any more reasons to get involved?

Find, support and participate with groups that track key small business policy issues, and who defend and advocate for small businesses at all government levels. Here’s the short list, including Web sites.

Your local chamber of commerce; National Federation of Independent, Small Business Survival Committee,; and your industry’s trade group.

America needs more people involved in the public policy debate who have made a payroll. If you can’t run yourself, support those who know firsthand about the challenges you face in your small business.

Write this on a rock... The choice is yours: Participate in the policy debates affecting your business, or take what you’re given by policy makers who will rightly assume that you don’t care.

Jim Blasingame
Small Business Expert and host of The Small Business Advocate Show
©2008 All Rights Reserved

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