Obama should help small business, but not too much

January 31, 2011

P. Griffith Lindell is a veteran business consultant, speaker and author. His newest book is “Struggling With Your Business? Ten Questions to Consider Before Investing A(nother) Dime“. The views expressed are his own. —

President Obama focused part of his State of the Union address on the need for “government (to) create the conditions necessary for businesses to expand.” I applaud and agree with him. The lifeblood of America must flow through micro and small-business veins.

It’s going to take more than political pronouncements, however, to produce the revenues and profits that will change the rules of the current economic game.

It’s going to take some practical business programs – developed, implemented and overseen by those who understand the stresses of meeting a payroll – not by some isolated academics or the political elite with ivory tower views. The major arteries of governmental involvement are needed, but with fewer constrictions. Until our economic blood flows freely to the small capillaries of small business, the national economy body will be anemic.

Let’s be certain in 2011 that the circulatory system of economic turnaround becomes healthy. First, eliminate the stress of uncertainty, which only constricts. Second, provide a regular heartbeat of money at good rates to oxygenate the economy’s blood supply.

Regaining health will demand small business advocates with “hearts” that have been strengthened in a crucible that mixes: (1) the stresses of making a payroll; (2) with finding and keeping customers; (3) while blending in relief born of opportunities that generate enough revenue to continue to fund the business.

Local, state and national program leadership must come from those who have proven experience – they have developed simple, practical business plans that leveraged resources, managed cash and returned a profit. Such leaders recognize that resources (like small business loans) must come from all facets of the community and the government can help facilitate that process – without being the process.

The demands on the small business person are enormous. Business issues – startup costs, capital expense and cash management – all must be pointed to providing something special for a target group of customers. Whether I’m consulting with business people, speaking, teaching university students or volunteering at SCORE, I know that this understanding of customers is a game changer.

But it’s not just about customers and cash. Small business consumes money, time and people. And it has a big appetite. Sometimes the small business “family” gets devoured by the demands and stresses particular to a small business. The uncertainty of complying with healthcare laws continues to provide stress that reaches inside many a business – and reaches the families involved. Governmental program leaders must comprehend these stresses and act accordingly.

Government has a role: facilitating access to capital at reasonable rates, encouraging entrepreneurship, preventing tax-and-license burdens from being onerous and provide clear and consistent regulatory messages that will help small businesses mitigate their risks.

But more is needed. Government leaders must provide program overhaul and streamlined processes that have been honed by the principle less is more. Then we all benefit. More jobs. More tax revenue. More services that can meet growing demands.

If President Obama and other governmental leaders provide this, Americans will rise up and applaud them.


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The challenge: Washington sees small business through the eyes of the Wharton and Harvard business school jocks who have never really been there and done that. They need to get the perspective of the people on the ground who truly understand and can articulate the needs.

Posted by ychange | Report as abusive

If we could just get past your first point- the issue of uncertainty, it would be a breakthrough for this economy! Having policy makers that continue to shove their progressive garbage down the throats of American business is choking industry- not helping!

Posted by Hawaii50 | Report as abusive