Small business is vital to our economy, accounting for more than half of all U.S. sales and providing more than half of all jobs since the 1970s. Yet too often, its importance seems to be ignored or misinterpreted in Washington, D.C.
When the next president takes office, whomever that may be, we have the opportunity to start a fresh conversation with the new administration. This conversation needs to include policies, regulations, and tax structures that will allow small businesses to succeed and unlock the economic drivers they are capable of.
From the small businesses I’ve been talking to, here are four ways the new administration can champion the small–business cause.
1. Cut the red tape.
Make it easier for small businesses. From getting a business license to getting a loan, there’s far too much regulation involved in becoming operational. Take the SBA loan process — not only is it overly complicated, it’s designed to help businesses way bigger than it appears to be serving. That means that even when you’ve done your due diligence, you are left dealing with a bank disinclined to make a loan to you.
2. Refocus the SBA.
The SBA defines small business as companies with fewer than 500 employees. That’s far too broad, as it encompasses the majority of employers in America. At a minimum, the SBA needs to more clearly and formally communicate how it can help small businesses at different stages. After all, a florist with five workers has drastically different challenges than an advertising agency with 75 employees.
3. Continue to expand SCORE.
The Service Corps of Retired Executives, known now as SCORE – Counselors to America’s Small Business, is a powerful resource the government has partnered with to provide free mentoring to entrepreneurs.We took advantage of this program early on at Infusionsoft; it was really valuable to have someone with great knowledge and experience help us work through our challenges and give us feedback on our ideas. A continued expansion so more small businesses could utilize SCORE would be great to see.
4. Improve hiring incentives.
There’s only one thing that’s more terrifying than when you quit your day job to strike off on your own to start your business: hiring your first employee. It’s a tough, tricky and complicated decision. And it really can be the death knell for a business.The way the system is set up right now makes it way too expensive to bring that first person on board. Your company is just starting to take off, and all of a sudden you have to pay taxes on that employee. For Fortune 500 companies, a few thousand isn’t much; for a small business, it’s a lot. Instead of penalizing, there should be an incentive for the business owner who is willing to take that plunge and bring someone on board to grow their business. Payroll taxes just don’t work for small businesses that are getting started.
Let us grow our business without getting in the way too much and we’ll be successful. In doing so, we will bring more wealth, prosperity and jobs to the country.
– Clate Mask is the CEO of Infusionsoft