It's Election Day!

While there's no presidential battle to keep you peeled to a map of red and blue states all day and night, make no mistake, there's a lot riding on your vote this year.

Across all 50 states, a variety of high-profile political positions hang in the balance--from the state house to Capitol Hill. Plus, with as many as nine Senate seats reportedly up for grabs, there are bound to be plenty of surprises.

For business owners, in particular, there's a lot riding on this one. Depending on how Tuesday's election unfolds, a variety of issues could come to a head in the next year. Among others, there's the immigration debate, potential for tax reform, and movement on entitlement programs. There's also a minimum wage referendum in five states, which could signal a renewal of talks for a federal wage hike.

Not sure how any of this will affect you? Here's a primer written collectively by Inc. staffers and contributors on what entrepreneurs and small business owners ought to consider heading into Election Day:

The Budget:

Should there be another budget impasse like the one in 2013, experts are predicting another shutdown, most likely after the midterm elections, and possibly before the end of the year. The House of Representatives is unlikely to repeat the scenario from a year ago. But if Republicans succeed in taking the Senate, the chances of a shutdown would escalate substantially, as a show of power, before the 2016 presidential election.

Job Creation:

This election has been all about jobs. But experts say there is a disconnect between proposed legislation and job growth. Matthew J. Slaughter, an economics professor at Dartmouth, isn't optimistic about the outcomes that Republicans can produce. He says, besides cutting taxes, which could help create some jobs, not much will change, based on looking at a variety of Republican proposals.

The Sequester:

The U.S. economy is healing, albeit sluggishly, and the deficit is improving. But the budget cuts that have curtailed spending on everything from Department of Defense spending to operating hours and staffing at national parks are still in place. It's possible continuing favorable economic conditions will lead to a partial rolling back of the sequester, which would be good for any business that depends on federal contracts, as well as for the local economies where those businesses are located.

Entitlement programs:

The skirmish over food stamp benefits last year proved, you can probably expect more cutbacks of so-called entitlements, which could curtail consumer spending at small businesses.

Immigration Reform:

Chances for comprehensive reform are dwindling, even as new reports of abuses of the H1B system for skilled foreign workers surface. Inaction, policy analysts and business groups suggest, is likely to constrain company growth due to limits on the numbers of qualified workers who can get visas to work for U.S. companies.

Minimum wage:

In five states including Alaska, Arkansas, Illinois, Nebraska and South Dakota, voters will be able to vote for higher minimum wages, which currently range from $6.25 to $8.25. The minimum wage referendums are understandably getting mixed reviews from business owners.

Tax Reform:

Republicans and Democrats generally agree about lowering the corporate tax rate and simplifying the tax code. But they don't agree on what to do about carried interest: Current tax laws permit partners in VC and PE funds to pay capital gains tax rates on their profits. Those rates are usually 20 percent. Going into the midterm elections, it's clear the private equity world remains concerned about losing the ability to pay capital gains rates on its income.

Marijuana legalization:

Many areas of the U.S. are heading towards legalizing marijuana. In fact, in dozens of cities and no less than seven states (Oregon, Florida, California, Maine, Michigan, New Mexico and Alaska), D.C. and the U.S. territory of Guam have referendums permitting the medical use of marijuana or de-criminalizing possession of small amounts, amongst other related marijuana issues.

Eyes on 2016:

Curious how Inc. 500 CEOs see the next election shaking out?

Published on: Nov 4, 2014