Small Business & Government

Small Business & Government

With friends like these … 

If, during a momentary lapse of common sense, you conclude that Government (at any level) is the key to your small business success; consider item three from the Dogged code …

We in small business succeed in spite of government, not because of it.

Government distorts the playing field, enforces its right to be the first hand in your pocket and considers any fallout from its decisions to be of little concern. Stability and predictability are good for business but crisis and insecurity are good for votes. Loophole riddled tax codes and agenda driven regulations can trigger painful periods of adjustment. Unfortunately for business, the law of the land is the law of unintended consequences and no one does the unintended better than politicians. Launch a war on poverty; precipitate the breakdown of the family unit. Snub the free market with price controls on gasoline; then pretend to be shocked when the supply dries up. Decree that everyone should be a homeowner (qualified or not) and then deflect the blame when the economy tanks. As the saying goes; the road to hell is paved with good intentions … well at least what seemed like good intentions at the time.

When you consider the total burden of federal, state and local taxes as well as the cost of complying with various mandates and regulations, government is the majority partner in your business.  A partner that produces no income, adds nothing to your productivity and has no interest in your input. For all the focus on the very rich and the very poor it is easy to forget that government owes its continued existence (in terms of the funds it must have to operate) to the rest of us. Most of the major economic problems experienced in our history (including the present one) can be attributed to government actions, regulatory breakdowns or the unintended consequences of agenda driven legislation. Since the effects of government actions on small business are rarely considered and there is no ability to exercise any influence as a unified group, we are the ones that are always forced to adjust. The drill has always been the same; government causes change … we assess and adjust. First you determine if the action will make it impossible to survive, next you examine the damage, then you make the changes needed to cope; lower income, fewer employees, hiring freezes, facility closures or abandonment of certain products and services. Once that is accomplished you are left with the final question; is this all still worth it? In the final analysis you must be able to say that you are not just working to provide employment for others, a profit to your suppliers and a pocket for the government to empty. Being in business for yourself should be just that … for yourself.

When we succeed it is not because of government; as they do precious little for small business directly, it is a result of our ability to adjust to change and prosper in spite of the obstacles. I reject the inclusion of small business owners it the “rich” category and the notion that we are able to absorb any amount of disruption (or income loss) as the price we must pay for the American dream. At the same time I applaud my fellow small business owners for the dogged persistence they exhibit in the wake of the latest in a long line of government induced storms.

James A. Krause … The Dogged One … 2009