Saturday, February 6, 2010

What Small Business Needs

This article from Llewellyn King sums it up pretty well, small business needs jobs. Small businesses are hurting because there is slow demand for their products. This is because people don't have jobs, are under-employed or are afraid of losing their jobs. Under this scenario, they can't afford to buy things. A small business might sell direct to customers, or they might manufacture or provide a service for another business that does. If the government wants to help small businesses, find a way to create demand by solving the job problem.

Once you solve the job problem, you also solve the small business finance problem. Banks would have more faith in the economy and small businesses could book profits they could then show the banks to acquire needed loans. Once defaults slow on credit cards, the most used method of small business financing, rates would hopefully lower as well. The government has already shown themselves incompetent at micro-lending to small business with their failed SBA ARC loans, just as they can't assist people with their mortgages. Other than somehow making the banks loan money to small business, creating jobs fixes the primary small business criteria for loans: profitability.

As King points out, small business tax credits are not the answer. To get a tax credit, you need to pay taxes. If you're small business is not profitable or just breaking even, you're not paying taxes, and don't need a tax credit. They expect small business to hire people with tax credits, which makes no sense at all. What will these new employees do at your slow business? Cater to the idle new employees of other small businesses? They certainly have time to shop!

Government doesn't really understand small business. Then again, as we're discovering, they really don't understand the people, our customers. Or maybe government has far less effect than we think and they're just blowing smoke until a natural correction occurs. I can't say I've got a lot of faith in either scenario.