Dumbfounded small business owners are licking their wounds from what more than two-thirds of them view as a disastrous 2012 election. The crushing defeat of an experienced and successful pro-business leader speaks volumes about the new culture emerging in America.
An Alexandria, VA small business owner left no doubt about her disappointment. After years in business and investing a half million dollars in her two enterprises, on Friday she shuttered one business sending 4 employees to the unemployment line and hung a “for sale” sign on the other one. Not willing to jeopardize a potential sale, she did not want her name disclosed – yet she is adamant in her belief that for America’s intrepid entrepreneurs their best days are behind them. “I just can’t see continuing to invest time, resources and energy in an economy that is headed in the wrong direction as a direct result of the election,” she said. “America was at a crossroads and we took a wrong turn for small business owners.”
And now the recriminations begin
The media CSI squads are picking apart the elephant’s carcass trying to ascertain the cause of death with focus on the 47% self-inflicted wound or the hyena feeding frenzy in the Primary or the mercurial and carnivorous female.
Entrepreneurs understand that it’s really not about any of the above. It’s about a changing culture in America that takes individual freedom for granted, thereby degrading its significance. It’s about a generation of Americans raised by teachers who believe every student should learn from the same book at the same lowest-common-denominator-pace thereby ensuring equal un-opportunity for all. It’s about the disintegration of the supportive family unit which used to take care of their own but is now submerged beneath mostly well-meaning if ineffective bureaucrats standing heel-to-toe with food stamps and vouchers waving wildly in the air.
The lack of public or media outrage over President Obama’s “You didn’t build that” remark stands as an omen in the mind of entrepreneurs as the harbinger for the next 4 years. The beseiged capitalism pendulum has swung against American entrepreneurs and small business owners feel it in their bones. Over 300,000 small businesses have closed their doors since the recession began in 2008 and many more are barely hanging on. SBA’s most recently released statistics (for FYE 2010) report that over 3 million small business workers have lost their jobs and 4 out of 5 entrepreneurs are now scratching out a living without any employees.
Waiting for the other shoe to drop
With a President seemingly oblivious to the chilling affect his “quarter-millionaire” tax will have on capital intensive small businesses, the fiscal cliff now emerges as the straw that will break the entrepreneurial camel’s back. Income tax increases, additional capital gains taxes, new inheritance taxes, skyrocketing Obamacare costs, out of control federal regulators, and not a single business man or woman in the White House. It isn’t a pretty picture being painted across America’s entrepreneurial landscape.
One guarantee the President can count on is that no small business owner is going to invest more capital or expand their business until they see if there is any compromise about where that other shoe will drop. As said by an immigrant small convenience store operator in a condominium community, “there is no doubt we are headed into a recession at least through March. I’m making no decisions until I see where the President and the economy are in April. Right now it does not look promising.”