When I was growing up, there was a hot dog stand about 10 miles from where we lived. The owners cooked hot dogs on a charcoal fire, along with huge, homemade onion rings and served gigantic, overflowing ice cream cones with generous portions streaming down our hands faster than we could eat it. I can still taste it now.
People would travel long distances to eat at this hot dog stand because it was so spectacular. There were always long lines--and I hate waiting in lines. If I have a dentist or doctor appointment and they can't get me in within 15 minutes of my appointment time, I leave. I've walked out on numerous occasions, but this hot dog stand was different. It was so awesome, I was willing to wait.
I'll never forget when a large, professional company bought it. Seeing an opportunity, the "professionals" believed they could double the profit, doing things like cutting the ice cream servings in half and using cheaper hot dogs, while still raising prices. The suits believed they could make a killing with this huge customer base; instead, they killed the company.
In two years, that hot dog stand went out of business. I was young, but the lesson has never been lost on me. When you start cutting back on customer service to save money, it will crush your business. This is something that happens to companies too often and seems to be accelerating. More often now, Americans are getting below average service for their dollars.
The Challenge for Small Business Owners
In many ways, this is what is happening to our country on a much larger scale. Small businesses, the engine of American growth, have been being strangled since 2008. The big guy, in the form of government over-regulation, has squashed this growth. Even the businesses that have held on are facing adversity after adversity, being crushed by the suits in Washington D.C. Several key factors have made our country great, including free market capitalism and our melting pot of different cultures.
Hillary Clinton's economic plan for businesses argues that it will "break free from the tyranny" of quarterly earning reports and take a longer view of the economy to boost wages. The main problem with our economy is not that companies are managing by quarters; rather, it's that small businesses are over-regulated into stagnation and ultimately, failure.
While most experts agree the growth of jobs in this country has been due primarily to small business, for decades our local, state and federal governments have been oppressing these companies with massive amounts of new rules and regulations. Until that reverses our economy will suffer and might sink into another recession.
Monitor Results for Our Country
Both presidential candidates are missing the point that most entrepreneurs understand because they're not living it: three-quarters of small business owners believe that businesses and consumers are over-regulated.
Due to federal regulations, U.S. productivity growth rate is nearly half of its historical rate, dropping from an annual average rate of 2.5% since 1948 to 1.1% since 2011. According to the Competitive Enterprise Institute, over the past 5 decades, there has been a tremendous growth of the Federal Register. That may be why 72% of small businesses reported that regulations were hurting their "operating environment."
Unless our representatives (and our new president) wake up and make some serious changes, the American government will kill American entrepreneurial growth. It's small businesses - like the extraordinary, customer-driven hot dog stand - that really make America great.