Support the small businesses that drive America's economy

Support the small businesses that drive America's economy
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What would Thanksgiving be without dessert? Many of us traveled to our favorite local bakery to pick up a pumpkin pie or another family favorite. There is a good chance that the bakery you bought from is operated by one of the millions of small business owners across the country who make up the lifeblood of our nation’s economy. According to an analysis by the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council, 85 percent of retail bakeries in the United States have fewer than 20 employees.

This weekend, millions of small businesses and their customers will celebrate Small Business Saturday, a national day established in 2010 to encourage people to “Shop Small” at local shops that make our communities strong. Since Small Business Saturday started, customers have supported their favorite independent retailers and restaurants by spending an estimated total of $85 billion over eight days alone. From the local baker to the freelance graphic designer, it is important that we salute these small businesses working along America’s Main Streets by shopping small and supporting them.   

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Although Small Business Saturday is a wonderful opportunity for the entire country to show our appreciation for these creative entrepreneurs, the support must continue past this weekend.  During the recent elections, millions of small business owners went to the polls to send a message to Congress that bipartisan solutions are needed across the board on issues ranging from health care to leveling the playing field by creating greater equity with our corporate counterparts.

As a founding member of the Small Business Roundtable (SBR), a coalition of small business organizations charged with advocating and promoting sound small business policy, we joined with other organizations to conduct a post-midterm election poll that found small business owners are concerned about the impact the 116th Congress may have on issues important to them. The poll commissioned by SBR included 445 small business owners from across the country in the days immediately following the midterm elections.

Results from the poll clearly demonstrated how small business owners felt about issues important to them, such as the need for Congress to immediately focus on fixing the Affordable Care Act by tackling health care affordability and access to quality care, which continue to plague America’s entrepreneurs. Thirty-one percent of respondents said they want Congress to address health care — more than double any other public policy issue the poll asked about. After attempts to repeal the health care law, policy discussions about how to fix the existing law, and make it work better for all Americans, unfortunately were left on the cutting room floor.   

We remain supportive of the Affordable Care Act and encourage the next Congress to address it by working together to fix its shortcomings. Small business owners and entrepreneurs care about quality, affordable health care for not only themselves, but also their employees and coworkers. In fact, newly instituted rules allowing for greater flexibility in the use of Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRA) — an issue for which the small business community has advocated for years — is just one example of how we can work together to offset rising health care premiums while strengthening the health care law.

A distant second in our SBR poll (15 percent) indicated that they desire action on tax reform and simplification. The major tax legislation passed late last year is about to turn a year old; yet, the real impact is yet to be determined for many small businesses. Half of the small businesses who took the survey indicated that the new Congress will hurt the impact of tax reform, while 34 percent believed they would have no impact on it.

As the leading advocate for the nation’s self-employed, we supported the tax law and have argued that its passage offers more simplification in the process, saving time and money for small business owners. But at the same time, many small business owners are unsure how to make it work for them. In an NASE survey this year, an overwhelming majority of poll-takers didn’t completely understand how the law would impact their business. Many felt the government didn’t adequately prepare them for how to make the law work for their businesses.

It is critical for the 116th Congress to work in a bipartisan way to help support our nation’s small business community. Good solutions know no party labels, and the millions of self-employed small business owners we represent — and those members of the Small Business Roundtable — want the same kind of collaborative, results-oriented action they employ to achieve business success coming from this new Congress.

On this Small Business Saturday, it is crucial for Americans from every corner of the country show their support by opening their wallets and their hearts to America’s small business community.

Keith Hall is a Certified Public Accountant and president and CEO of the National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE), the nation’s leading resource and advocate for the self-employed and micro-businesses.