Small Business Survival Course

Jim Blasingame

This is the eighth article of the Small Business Survival Course, or SBSC. This one is about small business public policy.

Why would public policy be included in the SBSC? This can be answered in two words: politicians and bureaucrats. These are the people with the power to levy taxes and impose regulations, both of which can negatively impact your business.

Clearly politics influences your small business. The question is, are you participating in the debate and contributing to the results, or taking what you're given by policy makers who can presume that you don't care?

Your first SBSC public policy assignment is to identify all of your local, state and federal elected representatives, and make a plan to meet each one sometime this year. Every year these individuals pass laws that lead to regulations and mandates that have an impact on your business. Unfortunately, that impact is often negative.

It's naïve to expect policy makers to intuitively act in the best interest of small business. Too many politicians have never made a payroll and consequently, know little or nothing about the challenges small business owners face.

Consequently, we have to find a way to get more involved, either through our own direct efforts, or indirectly through organizations that advocate for us.

An excellent way to participate directly is to find out about the voting record of your Congressional delegation on laws that affect small business. Then write a letter or attend local meetings they conduct, to congratulate them if they have a supportive voting record, or express your disappointment if they don't and encourage them to do better.

Some issues are easy to identify, like lower taxes. But some are more obscure, which leads us to the next SBSC public policy fact: The SBA reports that regulatory compliance costs small businesses over $7,000 per employee per year; more than double that of large business. Need a better reason to get involved?

Since most of us don't have time to get directly involved in politics, we should support groups that track key small business policy issues and defend and advocate for small businesses at all government levels. Here's a short list, including Web sites, of some I recommend:

Your local Chamber of Commerce; National Federation of Independent Business, ( Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council, (; and your industry's trade group.

Finally, when has there been a more important time for small business owners to be involved in the public policy issues that impact us?

Write this on a rock... The choice is yours: Participate in small business policy-making, or take what you're given by those who can 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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