3 Lessons Small Businesses Could Teach Washington
BY Michael Alter
One thing that might help the standoff in Congress? An education in effective leadership from small business owners.
As the frustrating battle over the government shutdown and the debt ceiling crisis continues to unfold, it’s hard not to look at it from a small business perspective. Stoppage of productivity, inability to make a deal, money spent on the salaries of the leaders while the business is not operating .... Would this happen in your small business?
Small business owners are all about problem-solving and efficiency, carefully managing costs and taking care of their employees. It seems Washington could take a lesson from them, but instead it’s the small business owners that have to sweat out this impasse. And the fewer people working, the less money that’s being spent on Main Street, which hits small business owners and entrepreneurs right in the pocketbook.
While Congress and the president are working towards a solution, it’s disappointing that it hasn’t happened sooner. Or that we even had to get to this place to begin with.
However this all shakes out, there are three lessons Washington could take from the small business community that would help them moving forward:
1. Learn How to Make a Deal
Business owners know that, in order to make a deal, you have to make compromises. You may not get the money you were looking for, or you may be asked to do things a little differently. But you find a middle ground and make it happen, because that’s what you have to do to keep revenue flowing.
2. Admit Your Mistakes
In business, you learn as much from your mistakes as you do from your successes. Entrepreneurs acknowledge and learn from mistakes all the time, and it’s how they learn to grow. Blaming someone else for your problems won’t help you move forward.
3. Manage Your Budget
Much of the fighting going on in Congress has to with spending. Small business owners have to be constantly aware of when they’re spending too much on things that don’t work. Otherwise, they risk going out of business. The government could certainly be more careful in this regard.
As someone who works with small businesses every day to make sure they can pay their employees, I know how important that is to them. Our leaders should take the same care with the country.
MICHAEL ALTER is president of SurePayroll, America’s leading online payroll service. He received an MBA from the Harvard Business School and holds a bachelor's degree in economics from Northwestern University. @michaelalter