An Entrepreneur Connect member recently wrote in with two important questions:
- Will the average small business owner benefit from the stimulus?
- What's it really going to cost?
After several weeks of speaking to advocates and opponents of the bill, here are the answers that have emerged.
1. Outside of obvious tax breaks, average business owners probably won't see direct benefits from the bill. That's because many don't have the time or inclination to do extra homework when it comes to dealing with the federal government. But there is money available--it's just mainly up to you to find it and get it.
The good news is you're not completely on your own. The feds and the Small Business Administration have launched outreach campaigns to educate people on new programs and spending projects, and government-to-business consultancies like Business Matchmaking and Onvia are providing specialized services that help businesses access stimulus opportunities. Entrepreneur.com's special report on the stimulus can help, too. We'll be updating regularly, so contact us with your stories, comments and questions.
If you really can't take time out from running the business to learn how to navigate the red tape, you can derive hope from the fact that most everyone expects the stimulus will help turn things around--at least a little--in 2010.
2. There's no nice way to put this. The money we're using now (which by some measures will push our country's gross debt to around $18 trillion over the next 5 years) will have to be repaid somewhere down the line, so we can count on higher tax rates in the future. Not only that, it's entirely possible that in the near-term, cash-strapped states may impose higher state taxes that nullify any tax breaks on the federal side.
The hope, of course, is that the stimulus will get the economy going fast enough that there will be enough in the coffers to balance things out in the end.