How to help small businesses on Small Business Saturday

By: Alfredo Ortiz

Appeared in Palm Beach Post on November 25, 2016


Though Black Friday and its estimated 75 million shoppers was expected to be the busiest shopping day of the year, Americans shouldn’t overlook the importance of today — Small Business Saturday. This event encourages shoppers to support their local small businesses.

Small Business Saturday gives the country’s small businesses a welcome boost in sales that doesn’t go unnoticed. However, if Americans truly want to help small businesses, which provide jobs and livelihoods for 85 million people nationwide, they should support policies that address the burdens that they face year-round.

According to a recent national poll of small-business owners, over-regulation, overtaxation, and lack of access to credit are the main hurdles preventing small businesses from expanding.

The consequences of these burdens are stark. According to Labor Department data released this month, job gains from new firms are at the lowest share of employment in over 20 years, and the rate of startup formation has halved in the last generation. These are just a couple of dozens of indicators signaling the declining role of small-business entrepreneurship in the U.S. economy.

What exactly does this burden look like? Consider the tax burden. Currently, small businesses pay a 39 percent federal marginal tax rate on their earnings, meaning that when other taxes are included, they are shipping off more than half of what they earn to Washington rather than reinvesting in their businesses and local communities.

Or take the minimum wage, which is increasing in most of the country. Four more states — Arizona, Colorado, Maine and Washington — voted on Election Day to dramatically increase their entry-level wage floors.

Many of these wage mandates, including recently passed ones in New York and California, are increasing small businesses’ entry-level labor costs by approximately 50 percent. This is a devastating blow for those operating on low profit margins. Consider a typical Main Street shop like the one frequented on Small Business Saturday. It earns only a few cents on every dollar in revenue.

Finally, look at how the Dodd-Frank financial regulations have dried up small businesses’ access to credit, which most need to invest in expansion and equipment. Dodd-Frank’s compliance costs have disproportionately hurt community banks. These community banks are the lifeblood of small businesses, providing the loans based on relationships and local know-how that big banks won’t.

Shoppers should spare a thought for the burdens facing small businesses on Small Business Saturday and support reforms to address them.

ALFREDO ORTIZ, ATLANTA

Editor’s note: Alfredo Ortiz is president and CEO of the Job Creators Network.