You already know that being an entrepreneur means being nimble, always thinking one step ahead even while you ensure that your business prospers right now. But for many, doing business under the Trump administration is pushing this balancing act to extremes.
Thanks to the president's flurry of executive orders and record-breaking use of the Congressional Review Act, which permits the repeal of new federal regulations, the rules governing health insurance, immigration, taxes, trade, and other policy issues are up for grabs. But what will happen to all of these rules remains unclear, as we saw with the aborted attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act. This makes it very difficult to predict how possible changes could affect your bottom line.
Some entrepreneurs welcome the uncertainty, sure that the administration's determination to relax regulations will ultimately benefit them. "Abiding by inconstant federal rules has been time-consuming and costly," says Charles Markman, co-founder of Galaxy Media, in Coral Springs, Florida.
But others say the impact of all the discussed changes is causing them the entrepreneurial equivalent of angina. Take immigration. Trump's efforts to more stringently enforce existing immigration laws and his changes to the H-1B visa program, which permits companies to bring in workers from abroad if they say they cannot find American employees for the positions, already appear to be prompting many skilled immigrants and foreign-born entrepreneurs to give the United States a pass. And that's dampening the finances of many business owners. "Our bread and butter, wealthy Brazilians looking to move to the USA through investment, has decreased interest" since the election, says Renata Castro, a lawyer with the immigration-focused Castro Legal Group, in Pompano Beach, Florida. "We've had to hold back on hiring and expanding until we can ascertain the medium-term impact of current decisions."
SRVR, a small telecommunications company that has been dependent on international calls for most of its revenue, is also bracing for potential fallout. "If there are no new immigrants in the country, they won't be calling home," says Dana Todd, SRVR's chief marketing officer.
That's not the only business issue the Troy, Michigan, firm is unexpectedly navigating thanks to the sudden changes in the regulatory winds. The administration's plans to revoke Obama-era rules on net neutrality could have an outsize impact on niche telecommunications providers like SRVR. If the main telecom carriers are allowed to prioritize their services over those of other providers on their networks, or to charge higher rates for certain services, outside competitors like SRVR could see their offerings interrupted or blocked. "If the providers of data services are allowed to treat certain types of content as premium, and restrict or block it or charge more for it, that could impact us," Todd says.
Yet small-business owners also know that, after all, you need to roll with the punches. In that spirit, SRVR is pivoting on a new app, QuickCall. The company, which developed the product for use by immigrants and refugee organizations, is changing it to meet the needs of big corporations, including financial services firms, and government clients. "We aren't putting all our eggs in one basket," Todd says.
That sounds like good business, no matter who is living in the White House.