Here Is What Small Business Needs From the Trump Administration
As President-Elect Trump is busy at work filling his Cabinet positions, the one area that may be among the most important, but is among the least talked about, pertains to small business.
Small business and entrepreneurship are at the center of creating jobs and growing the economy, which are key pieces of Trump’s stated focus. While previous presidents, including President Obama, have raised the Administrator of the Small Business Administration to a Cabinet-level position, Trump should continue his out-of-the-box thinking and make a small business Cabinet position even more front and center in his own administration.
As a leading small business advocate for the greater part of the past decade, I’ve identified several key areas that Trump’s appointee should be able to navigate in order to add full value to the administration, as well as the 28 million small businesses (and tens of millions of freelancers) currently at the center of our economic engine.
Knowledge of the small business universe and ecosystem.
Because there are so many different types of small businesses, the small business universe has been a conundrum for government and private entities to target, reach and assist them. Around 22 million small businesses in the US have no employees. Approximately 6 million do have employees. Traditional “Main Street” businesses, typically financed by the entrepreneurs themselves, are in the majority. Venture capital funds a fraction of a percent of all start-up and small businesses, but those are the ones with the most growth potential.
Knowing this variability amongst the different types of businesses and their different needs is critical to advocating for all of them, as is the ability to network on Main Street, K Street and in Silicon Valley alike.
A true understanding of how regulation impacts the different types of small businesses.
Just about every piece of key legislation that is likely to be revamped or introduced under Trump and the Republican-majority Congress affects small businesses. And the nuances of the above different types of small business make representing the needs of all small businesses a bit more complicated.
Tax reform will need to be structured to account for those who use corporate legal structures like C-corps, as well as the majority of entrepreneurs who use pass-through entities like single-member LLCs. It should also take into account definitions, like that of a 1099 employee (especially given the growth in freelancing) and whether a franchisee of a major corporation should be considered a small business (my take: it should).
The Affordable Care Act has obviously put enormous strains on some small businesses, so their needs need to be evaluated in any restructuring, while also still making sure that healthcare is widely available to all entrepreneurs and their employees.
Immigration policy, from potential burdens of reporting and verification to visa needs for highly skilled positions, are also critical to small business owners, as is Dodd-Frank’s impact on lending to small business. Even repatriation of cash from big businesses oversees could be tied into small business benefits if the right person ensures a focus on it.
A desire to embrace technology.
An entrepreneurial bent needs to be given to the work done for small business by the government and other entities that it partners. From creating a single interface for small business owners to easily navigate and find the resources that they need, to making events available via broadcast or replay video for viewing if you can’t attend in person (or didn’t get the memo until a week later), a tech overhaul in the name of small business is desperately needed.
A willingness to embrace collaboration.
Small business as an issue shouldn’t be kept in a silo. The reality is that there are many public, quasi-public and private groups all producing resources to try to help entrepreneurs and many of these are all rowing in different directions that need to be brought together to collaborate, instead of doing things individually.
The same goes for the various other governmental departments that all impact small business, and vice versa. Not understanding the symbiosis between economic and policy efforts of other departments and small business will be a roadblock in giving small businesses the representation and resources that they need to succeed.
A commitment to progress, not politics.
At the end of the day, most of the rhetoric and some of the efforts around small business owners seem more about administrative game-playing instead of providing help and assistance to small business owners to make their lives easier and their businesses more successful. National Small Business Week is more about administrative self-congratulating and less about providing resources to those who need it. A renewed, entrepreneurial focus on doing more with less will truly help make small business the priority that it should be.