Mr. President, I Don't Think You See Us

I agreed with many of the things President Barack Obama said in yesterday's State Of The Union address. We do need health insurance reform. We do need to tackle the issue of childhood obesity. We do need to invest in the skills and education of American people. We do need to increase our exports to foreign countries. We do need more jobs.

(If you are reading this via email or RSS and cannot see the video, click here.)

And yes, we also need to support small businesses. But I disagree with the President's assumption that all small businesses need in order to thrive is money.In his speech. the President said that while banks seem to be lending again, they are lending to big corporations and leaving small businesses in the dust. True enough I suppose. But he went on to say that the way to fix that problem is to take $30 billion of the money Wall Street banks have repaid, and use it to help community banks give loans to small businesses. Sounds good, but here's the problem.

The President is still talking about traditional small businesses. He's not talking about very small businesses that are not looking for money.

In times past, it was rare that a business of any size would try to launch without substantial financial reserves or a loan or an investor of some kind. But today, there is a growing number of businesses that don't want a loan.

These businesses are run by people who don't define wealth by how much money they have, but by how much enjoyment of life they have. They're run by people who would rather contract work out than hire employees. And they refuse to wait around for a bank to give them a green light before they start to build their American dream.

These people are you. They are me. They are us.

But I don't think President Obama sees us, or if he does, I don't think he thinks that we are present in large enough numbers to warrant any particular kind of consideration.

What Do We Want?

We are not looking to hire people in any large numbers. We are not looking for money either. We're simply looking for a level playing field so we can compete fairly and equally in our chosen fields.

I think it's great to put $30 billion toward small business lending. But in all honesty, I think the banks will figure out a way to make the process so arduous and the terms so unfair that, even if a tiny business gets a loan, they may quickly wish they hadn't.

In addition to throwing more money around, I wish President Obama would address the issue of the red tape that small businesses must deal with these days. It's not the lack of funding that's strangling us. It's the increasing number of unnecessary fees, filings, inspections, guidelines and hoops we have to deal with — at the state and federal levels — in order to get started. Even if a very small business gets a loan, what good does it do if all of the funds must be spent to comply with one-size-fits-all regulations that were put in place to curb the practices of large, multi-national corporations?

What good is a loan if you have to use it to break down barriers to entry, instead of make a profit?

I don't think President Obama is addressing the issue of the very small business owner. I don't think he sees us.

Shouldn't we try to change that?

Question: What do you think is the bigger problem facing very small businesses today, lack of money or excessive regulation?

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About Donna Maria Coles Johnson

Donna Maria is an author, podcaster, attorney, and the founder and CEO of the Indie Business Network, providing affordable product liability insurance and mentoring. Donna Maria teaches Makers and Creative Entrepreneurs how to use technology and community to build a profitable, sustainable business.