"I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore!" Ever since these words were shouted by fictional TV anchor Howard Beale in the 1976 movie classic Network, millions of us have shared the sentiment. Maybe some of you even did what Beale suggested and shared your anger. I know I wrote those very words in this space several years ago.
I hate being repetitive, but in this case, I AM mad as hell and I'm NOT going to take this anymore. And you should all be joining me in my outrage. Why am I so mad? Well, I'm angry on your behalf. There are so many empty words and promises being uttered in support of entrepreneurs that it's hard to keep track. Politicians (from both parties) regularly proclaim how important you are to the economy, how vital you are to the nation's future and how they always have your best interests in mind.
Sounds great, right? It would be, if it were true. But unfortunately, too much of what's promised will never be delivered. That should make you mad.
It's not like you entrepreneurs are silent. Numerous surveys show the good--and the bad. A few months ago, OPEN: The Small Business Network from American Express released its semiannual small-business survey. Among other promising projections, 85 percent of small businesses expect their companies to grow over the next six months, up significantly from last spring's numbers.
Given this positive outlook, one would expect you'd be getting a helping hand so you can concentrate on growing your business. But you're not.
And the outlook isn't all rosy. Other surveys show you have concerns, and complying with myriad federal regulations is one of them. In January 2003, congressman John Sweeney (R-NY) introduced the National Small Business Regulatory Assistance Act in the House. The bill directs the SBA to establish a pilot program providing entrepreneurs with regulatory compliance assistance through participating Small Business Development Centers. In April 2003, the House, which doesn't seem to agree on much these days, agreed on the merits of this bill and passed it by an overwhelming 417 to 4. Now, more than two years later, not much else has happened. Don Wilson, head of the Association of SBDCs, is frustrated that this bill is stuck. Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez (D-NY), who regularly debates issues in our "Point/Counterpoint" column and is the ranking minority member of the House Committee on Small Business, told me how important the Sweeney bill is for entrepreneurs. "Small businesses clearly need this type of assistance," Velázquez says. "It is a shame it has been stalled [in Congress] when many of our nation's entrepreneurs are in need of these types of services."
A similar bill was re-introduced in the Senate by Sens. John Kerry (D-MA) and John Ensign (R-NV), also more than 2 years ago. Sen. Kerry's office recently told Entrepreneur he would re-reintroduce the bill shortly. (It may have happened by the time you read this.) So far, the Senate has not passed the legislation.
We don't have to take this anymore. Instead of just shouting about how mad we are, let's do something about it. Sometime today, call, write, or e-mail your congressional representatives as well as the House Committee on Small Business and the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship. Tell them you're a business owner and you're tired of the empty rhetoric. Tell them to support H.R. 230 and S.1255.