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3 Hurdles to Getting the Small Business Economy Running

We need Olympic-style excitement to get the small business economy off and running again. Here's what else.

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I've been watching the strength and effort of the athletes at the Olympics this summer, and paying attention to the care put into the planning and presentation of the event itself.

Of course, there will also be a lot of energy spent this campaign season squabbling over who to blame for our economic troubles, with the spirit of the games quickly forgotten. 

But what we really need is to spend a few weeks with this kind of focus on our small businesses. Let's figure out a way to boost the small business economy--fast.

In July, SurePayroll's Small Business Scorecard for the month of July showed hiring flat, which was actually a bit of good news considering it's the first time since February SurePayroll hasn't reported a negative number. The average paycheck fell 0.2%, with many people likely working fewer hours to take summer vacations.

Clearly, though, we still need to make stronger strides in the right direction. I think we could make impactful changes fairly quickly if we let a bunch of smart people with good ideas come together to figure out how to make it happen. Congress should reach out to the small business community to find out what it needs.

Based on what I know from talking to SurePayroll’s more than 35,000 small business customers, here are three things I suggest:

1. Lower tax rates for small business owners if they reinvest in their businesses. 

This is not a free giveaway, it's a reward for reinvesting in areas such as new equipment and hiring that drive our economy.

2. Create skills training programs.

We especially need more education on basic technology, math, and customer service skills that would give the unemployed a vast array of abilities, and make them a much more attractive pool of applicants. Learning a new trade can be very valuable in a job hunt.

3. Give incentives to investors who are willing to take stakes in small businesses.

Let these people write off (on their taxes) a certain amount of small business investment. It may make the investment decision that much less risky, and that much easier to make.

We need Olympic-style excitement for the small business economy right now. We've hung in there with the "new normal" long enough. It's time to see some action moving forward. We should be as proud and enthused about our small businesses as we are about our great athletes.

Last updated: Aug 10, 2012

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




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