America’s 27 million small businesses represent 99 percent of U.S. employers and account for three-quarters of all new jobs created. The smallest of businesses stand to make the biggest impact on economic growth and job creation.
In order to remain a powerful collective engine for growth, small businesses need a little help from Washington. A recent U.S. Chamber of Commerce survey of small-business owners found that a whopping 87 percent are looking for more certainty from government. Our leaders can help by putting an end to the uncertainty that hamstrings hiring, stifles growth and halts investment.
Small-business owners and entrepreneurs want confidence that their taxes won’t be hiked and that compliance will be simple and predictable. They want to know what the health-care law will cost and require of their businesses so that they can plan accordingly. They want to know what regulations they’ll face and have confidence that those rules are based on sound science and good data and will provide more benefit than cost.
They want to see lawmakers move forward with an ambitious trade agenda that will open up new opportunities for exports and expansion. They want to know that Washington will smartly leverage domestic energy resources to help keep costs low and supplies stable in the United States.
Above all, they want to know that our leaders can work together to solve the significant fiscal and budget challenges facing our nation. Small businesses must make tough decisions every day — they expect no less from their lawmakers.
With some certainty on these issues, small businesses will be able to hire, invest, innovate and expand with greater confidence. This, in turn, will drive stronger growth across the economy.
What employers don’t want is government exerting too much power or control over their businesses. Only 5 percent of the small-business owners surveyed were interested in “government assistance.” The government’s legitimate role in business is to set the rules of the road; ensure health, safety and lawful behavior; and foster a policy environment that allows our free market economy to thrive. Beyond that, government can help most by staying out of the way.
Small businesses know what they want — and many of them are not afraid to ask for it. Next week, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce will welcome hundreds of owners and entrepreneurs to America’s Small Business Summit in Washington. Together, we will send our leaders and lawmakers a clear message: When small businesses succeed, America succeeds! So let’s give them what they want — and need — to do it.
— Tom Donohue is president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The opinions expressed are his own.