Why I--a Serial Entrepreneur--Voted for Obama
As a small business owner, it's important to cut through the partisan rhetoric and pay attention to the political environment, and how it impacts you and your company.
Looking back on what Obama has accomplished during his current term and the impact on small business owners, I am glad he won re-election, and here's why:
Let's allow time for Obama's policies to work.
I believe strongly that you should give new initiatives time to make an impact. When I talk about this in the business world, I advocate allowing a major new initiative or venture at least six months before you make a decision if it's working or not.
When it comes to the government, it takes much longer for results to appear and President Obama had the added complication of taking office during one of the most tumultuous economic periods since the Great Depression. We are just now starting to see the results of his policies and leadership, and they appear to be moving us in the right direction.
The economy's starting to improve.
My company, User Insight, can serve as an early indicator of an improving economy. Based on the type of work I am hired to do, I can tell if other, often larger companies are concentrating on cost savings (and, therefore, the economy is weak) or trying new efforts and cutting edge ideas (the economy is growing). Recently, most of our commissioned client work has focused on looking at new technologies and creative ideas. That's a very positive sign.
In my conversations with other small business owners, I hear about an increase in business activity; they are starting new initiatives, or hiring more. When the economy is faltering, small business owners complain about a lack of demand, and employees stay put.
There has been an 8% increase in the number of business start-ups from 2009 to 2011, according to Obama's web site. Small businesses and start-ups are the backbone of the economy and the best way to create new jobs. Sustained, purposeful job creation is the only way the country can fully recover from the recent economic downturn.
Obama's administration has put into place many policies that benefit small business owners.
1. The health care reform tax benefit will cover 50% of small businesses' health care costs by 2014. This is important because small businesses are at a dramatic disadvantage in securing the same type of insurance rates as large businesses, which can spread risk across a wider employee base. The overall impact of this reform is projected to save small businesses 18%.
2. To incentivize entrepreneurs to spend more money in the process of creating a new enterprise, the Obama administration doubled deducations for start-up expenses. The impact of this spending will be felt across the economy as goods and services are consumed, and then replaced through production.
3. The Start-up America Partnership, which Obama helped launch, invests $1 billion in early-stage seed financing, the most difficult round of funding a small business can secure.
4. It reformed the Small Business Administration loan process. After the financial failures and economic uncertainty in 2008, getting financing for small businesses was a huge hurdle. The SBA loan program, there to fill that void, only works if small businesses understand how to apply for and receive the funds. The SBA loan process was streamlined and 150,000 small businesses have received loans since 2008.
5. The government increased spending with small businesses, just many large commercial businesses stopped. More than $500 billion dollars of government spending was earmarked to be spent directly with small busineses--$300 billion in prime contracts, and $200 billion in subcontracts.
6. As part of this spending, legislation was passed to speed up payments to small businesses. Cash flow is the lifeblood of all small businesses, and receiving payments faster increases the ability to grow, as well as overall confidence.
Other reasons that keeping Obama in office that are good for the country and indirectly good for small business include:
He's ensured a strong manufacturing base in the United States.
While it's important for the U.S. to be a leader in white collar jobs, the country has a strong manufacturing heritage, which we need to maintain to keep jobs here.
Since 2010, 479,000 manufacturing jobs have been created and Obama promises to have 1,000,000 more manufacturing jobs by 2016. He also intends to create 15 to 20 manufacturing innovation institutes that would bring together businesses and research universities to ensure products are invented and made in the U.S.
He's also made a goal to double U.S. exports to other countries by 2014--to help equalize our export position with other countries.
He's looking to provide higher education.
Obama has plans for a program that would train two million people for what are considered "good jobs"--jobs that would allow them to provide for themselves and their families.
He's also proposing college tax credits of $10,000 per family over four years to make the rising costs of college more affordable.
He is a man of his word.
To me, this is the most important reason to keep Obama in office. Obama said he would bring about universal health care, and he did. He said he would track down and kill Osama Bin Laden, and he did. He promised to be there during time of crisis, and he was.
On this last point, I was very impressed with both President Obama's visibility and response during the recent storms in Northeast. He is the kind of leader the greatest nation in the world expects and needs.
ERIC V. HOLTZCLAW is a serial entrepreneur who has founded multiple startup companies, including one of the first profitable Internet enterprises. His last company appeared on the Inc. 5000 three years in a row. Holtzclaw advises clients on the whys of business--why customers buy, why teams work, and the all-important "entrepreneurial" why. He is the author of Laddering, and his weekly radio show, The "Better You" Project, shines a spotlight on entrepreneurs' individual business journeys and successes. To learn more about Holtzclaw, visit ladderingworks.com or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
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