Take it from small business owners — Trump is all risk, no reward

Locker room talk and email servers. Miss Universe and Director Comey. Red ties and pantsuits. 

Welcome to the 2016 presidential election.

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Never before has the public discourse and political debate been dominated more by personal character than actual policy debate. Unfortunately, for entrepreneurs and business leaders throughout America, these scandals continue to bury the important economic and business issues that should be at the forefront of the national conversation.

In three debates and countless more interviews, we have yet to hear the candidates seriously challenged and given the opportunity to answer questions about their respective economic plans and how they will affect small businesses in the U.S. As business owners and job creators, this should be very important to business and community leaders.

Scandals and rhetoric aside, we think when it comes down to substance, there is one clear choice for small business owner and entrepreneurs this election cycle: Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham Clinton'Where's your spoon?' What we didn't learn in the latest debate The Hill's 12:30 Report: Roger Stone gets over three years in prison; Brutal night for Bloomberg Poll: Democrats trail Trump in Wisconsin, lead in Michigan and Pennsylvania MORE.

Let’s start with facts. Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpChasten Buttigieg: 'I've been dealing with the likes of Rush Limbaugh my entire life' Lawmakers paint different pictures of Trump's 'opportunity zone' program We must not turn our heads from the effects of traumatic brain injuries MORE has a well-established history of treating small businesses poorly. In fact, it was recently revealed that Trump routinely refused payment for services delivered by a number of small businesses.

Steven Jenkins, one of those small business owners who worked on Trump’s exclusive Taj Majal, eventually ended up settling for 30 cents on the dollar after Trump filed for bankruptcy. Jenkins’ company was owed $231,000 by Trump, according to the bankruptcy claim filed in the case, and ended up settling for $70,000. 

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In another case, a caterer who had worked for Trump said he refused payment on the grounds that she should be thankful for the ability to use one of his parties as an advertisement for her business. 

During the second debate, Trump even boasted about not paying contractors, responding to Clinton’s charge as such with a response, “Maybe he didn't do a good job, and I was unsatisfied with his work.”

While not paying or renegotiating compensation for poor services rendered is nothing new, a routine and seemingly ritualistic pattern of doing so is something that should send red flags to business people everywhere. 

As a business owner and a contractor, the treatment of small businesses is a concern that I take personally.

Most small businesses are just that — small. From personal experience, and from speaking with countless other business owners around the world, we know firsthand that a late, missed, or refused payment can seriously threaten the life of a small business.  And while these things happen from time to time, people who constantly take advantage of their position and power should be called out.

Furthermore, Trump’s pitch is that he will “burn down Washington” is not good for small business. The business environment thrives on stability — change, especially substantial and immediate change, equals risk. As this risk erodes the confidence in our economy, people tend to spend less money. Unfortunately, the businesses that suffer first and are the hardest hit are small businesses. 

Let’s also look at Trump’s claim, “Make America Great Again.”

Jobs are returning and unemployment is as low as it was at the start of the Great Recession. Whether you like Clinton or Obama overall, there is no denying that employment is rising and people are starting to spend money again. Why would we want to jeopardize that?  The recovery is in full swing and small businesses are thriving — now is not the time to put on the breaks. 

Looking forward, we need a focus our need for new roads, new communications infrastructure, and better schools that prepare our youth the future. We cannot turn back the clock, so the question is how do we forge the best future for America that helps us stay on top.

This is what business leaders do every day to survive, and why we need a president that supports this endeavor. 

This election should not be about drama and gossip, but for small business leaders, it should be about character. 

Donald Trump is the guy that demanded that, in order to get his “really amazing” business, you needed to give him an additional 90 days to pay. 

Donald Trump is the guy that has told you for the past year that the check was in the mail. 

Donald Trump is the guy who made you refuse a paycheck and instead paid your employees and your vendors because his check never came. 

Donald Trump is the guy who caused you to cash out your 401(k) to keep your business open while he filed bankruptcy and paid you pennies on the dollar for your hard work and labor.

Donald Trump is the guy who took advantage of the hard and honest labor of his partners while pocketing glory and profits. He is the guy you resolved to never do business with again. 

That’s why business should vote Clinton. 

Power and Gasca are co-founders of Wild Creations, a specialty toy company. Both authors currently write weekly columns for Inc.com and Entreprenuer.com.


The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill.