Why Small Businesses Are The Pawns of This Election Cycle
This year is fueling a lot of uncertainty among small business owners. While business owners deal with the same movie, different characters every election cycle, 2020 has put small businesses in an incredibly precarious spot. Business challenges triggered by the pandemic coupled with an election cycle is delivering overwhelming anxiety. Navigating through this environment will require small business owners and entrepreneurs to stay focused and positive as we all carefully navigate the minefield.
Small businesses — the heart of America — are being played as one of the biggest pawns in the political game. With these businesses numbering more than 32 million in the U.S., candidate rhetoric and promises are often manipulated to court this constituency. The stakes are high in this election for small businesses. According to a Verizon Business Survey, 81% of small business decision-makers think that small businesses will be impacted in the U.S. depending on the election results. On top of that, 57% believe the election outcome will impact the financial health of businesses.
Each one of three possible election outcomes — Trump wins, Biden wins, or Undecided — will impact small businesses in different challenging ways.
The red, blue, and purple impact
In a “red” scenario where Trump gets elected for a second term, economic implications for small businesses include a favorable tax and regulatory environment geared toward generating a wave of new business. Other areas affecting the economy, like the environment, are likely to be negatively impacted by this scenario.
The economic implications of a “blue” scenario where Biden wins may include increased regulation and tax hikes. For businesses struggling with a tough pandemic economy, this scenario may mean only the strongest will survive. However, Biden’s climate change and environmental plans would likely result in more green jobs in the United States.
While a Biden or Trump win brings pros and cons to small businesses, the “purple” scenario — where the election does not have a clear immediate winner — is the worst scenario for business. This outcome would put companies in an economic limbo that will curtail things like expansion and hiring and would generally be very bad news for business.
Regardless of the outcome, small business owners play an important role in leading through the field of uncertainty for their staff, family, and their businesses. There are a few foundational strategies we can all employ during this journey over the next few months:
During an election, there is a lot of noise. Business owners are well served to mute the noise and focus on what they do best — running their business. The key is to focus on the things that can be controlled like expenses, cost control, and overall financial management. Avoiding the pitfall of reactive decision making and maintaining a laser focus on strategies for growth are critical for successfully navigating through business uncertainty. As the election plays out, small business owners should also focus on “what if” planning for how they can stay nimble and adapt to post-election changes in the business climate.
Block and tackle
The basics are critically important in an uncertain environment. Business owners with the strongest foundation are the ones who survive challenging times. This includes building a positive company culture that values every team member, prioritizing interactions with customers or clients to deliver exceptional products and services, and monitoring the financial health of the business to quickly make decisions as the economic climate changes. All of these are essential to the blocking-and-tackling approach for business resiliency — and very easy to lose sight of during the pressure cooker of the 2020 election.
Election cycles and the uncertainty they bring are energy vampires to small business owners. A positive outlook and a focus on the future go a long way in ensuring their business remains resilient. Regardless of the election outcome, small business owners always find a way through. Time will pass and the world will keep moving. A positive outlook is integral in keeping their businesses moving — onward and upward through uncertainty.
A Vistaprint survey cited by the New York Post revealed that more than half of small business owners feel the upcoming election is the most important of their lifetime. The survey also found that a third of business owners feel anxious or worried about the election, 24% percent said they’re nervous, and 16% admitted they’re outright scared. But even through the fear, engagement numbers are up — 62% of small business owners are more interested in this upcoming election compared to the 2016 election, according to a poll by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and MetLife.
As the outcome reveals itself to the world over the next few weeks, we can trust that the sun will shine again and small business owners will rise to the occasion.