Small firms still have a fighting chance, even in Washington, when politicians learn about the power of new firms to create jobs and build communities. Data show that nearly all net job creation since 1980 has occurred in firms less than five years old. Small businesses also have a chance when they join together to lobby Congress and the White House. It is that simple concept that led C. Wilson Harder to create the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) in 1943. Harder wanted to start an advocacy organization that would exclusively lobby issues deemed important by its small business members. He created a member-ballot that was mailed to NFIB members on a regular basis, to solicit their views on issues affecting their businesses. Harder then communicated the member-ballot results to elected officials at a state and national level. NFIB has stayed true to its principle of one member, one vote. No other small business advocacy organization has such a democratic system of determining its positions. In fact, I doubt any advocacy group, liberal or conservative, goes through such a rigorous process to determine its positions.
What makes NFIB truly special is its members. Obamacare plaintiff, David Klemencic, is a perfect example. David is the owner of Ellenboro Floors in West Virginia. He worked in the flooring business installing floors before starting his own shop. Now, Dave is approaching his 10th year in business. He and other small business plaintiffs are under a spotlight that can be made harsh by activists who wanted Obamacare to go unchallenged, but Dave had the courage to be a plaintiff because he believes the principles of free enterprise are at risk. That same grit and determination are qualities echoed throughout NFIB’s membership.
Small business detractors will attack NFIB and the small business plaintiffs who challenged Obamacare. They may be able to debate healthcare policy, but at least they cannot question NFIB’s commitment to its members and the courage of Dave Klemencic and others to stand up for what they believe in. They are heroes who give the underdog a fighting chance.
Sullivan is an attorney at Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough, LLP where he runs the Small Business Coalition for Regulatory Relief. Thomas Sullivan was chief counsel for SBA's Office of Advocacy from 2002-2008.