Small Business Majority Blog

Small Business Matters

Small Business Majority CEO John Arensmeyer

Originally published in The Huffington Post

Despite growing support for raising the minimum wage, Congress has yet to even vote on legislation that would raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 and index it to the cost of living. As a result, many states are taking matters into their own hands. In fact, a whopping 34 states considered increases to their state’s minimum wage during 2014 legislative sessions. What’s more, 11 states and D.C.–Connecticut, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota and West Virginia to name a few–have all enacted minimum wage increases this year. If you believe the hype surrounding raising the wage, this should put small businesses in these states out of business, right? Wrong.

Research shows a majority of small business owners support raising the minimum wage. Small Business Majority’s scientific opinion poll found nearly six in 10 small business owners support increasing the minimum wage and adjusting it annually to the cost of living. And more than half believe increasing the minimum wage will boost consumer demand, helping small businesses grow and hire. And small business support for raising the wage has been steadily growing. More recent polls show results ranging from 61 percent to two-thirds of small business owners support increasing the minimum wage, and a poll of all employer sizes found growing support within the business community for raising the minimum wage.

Small business owners recognize the benefits to their business and local economies when lower-wage workers have the money they need to spend on essential goods and services at small businesses. That’s why many support their state’s efforts to raise the minimum wage and adjust it yearly to keep pace with inflation.

Here’s what small business owners are saying firsthand about raising the minimum wage.

“Many of the customers we serve are minimum wage or low-income employees,” said Mitchell Josim, co-owner of Windy City Eyes in Chicago. “Raising the minimum wage would put more money in their pockets to spend on products at our store and at other local businesses in the community.”

“I pay all of my employees well above the minimum wage, including entry-level workers,” said Rolf Poeting, owner of Glassautomatic, Inc. in Mount Pleasant, Penn. “A workforce that is able to live off their wage is a happy workforce, and it in turn helps us retain the top talent around.”

“Getting minimum wage workers a decent raise would allow these folks to stimulate the economy,” said Martine Laguerre, owner of Fuzzyannie Cleaning Services LLC in the Bronx. “Minimum wage workers do much of their shopping at small businesses. If they had more money to spend, it would help boost local communities and be great for small businesses.”

Entrepreneurs know their businesses succeed when their communities thrive. That’s why we just released a series of online guides to help small employers understand how efforts to raise their state’s minimum wage would impact their businesses, and the state’s economy on the whole. Business owners in IllinoisWisconsinPennsylvania, and New York will be able to use the websites to send comments directly to lawmakers to show them how real entrepreneurs feel about this issue.

A vast majority of small businesses already pay their workers more than the minimum wage, and many small employers feel it’s the right thing to do. We also know small business owners’ No. 1 concern is consumer demand. State lawmakers should continue to listen to small employers and raise their minimum wages to help small businesses, our workers and the economy.

To learn more about what real small business owners are saying about raising the wage, check out their testimonials and find links to our state websites through www.smallbizsayraisethewage.com.

There are many complex policy issues that have a major impact on the small business community. Each week, we’re going to help break one of those issues down so small business owners can stay in the know and remain aware of their stake in these national issues. This week’s Issue Q&A is on workplace nondiscrimination.

Q: What does workplace nondiscrimination cover?

A: Workplace nondiscrimination entails protecting workers from discriminatory hiring or firing practices, and overall treatment within the workplace. Currently, federal law prohibits discrimination based on gender, sex, age, race and color, but does not include sexual orientation or gender identity.

Q: Why is this an important issue for small businesses to consider?

A: The vast majority of small business owners don’t know that it is still legal under federal and many state laws to fire or refuse to hire someone because of their sexual orientation. A striking 81% of entrepreneurs said this practice was illegal under federal law according to our scientific polling, and only 9% knew that these discriminatory practices are still in fact legal. The fact that these laws prevent many small businesses from attracting and retaining the best talent around impedes the bottom lines of many small businesses and prevents them from growing their company, solidifying their workforce and creating more jobs.

Q: Where do small businesses stand on workplace nondiscrimination?

A: More than 2/3 of entrepreneurs believe federal law should prohibit employment discrimination against LGBT people. Seven out of 10 in states without such policies agree their state should adopt a law prohibiting this discriminatory practice. Small business owners also strongly believe an employer should not be able to fire or refuse to hire someone due to their sexual orientation based on their personal religious beliefs. 63% believed that a worker’s sexual orientation is not a basis for termination if working with them conflicts with their employer’s religious beliefs. Meanwhile, 70% believe a business should not be legally allowed to refuse services to some customers, but not others, based on religious beliefs. Small business owners agree overwhelmingly that laws protecting workplace nondiscrimination are good for business and the right thing to do.

There are many complex policy issues that have a major impact on the small business community. Each week, we’re going to help break one of those issues down so small business owners can stay in the know and remain aware of their stake in these national issues. This week’s Issue Q&A is on minimum wage.

Q: Why is the minimum wage debate so important to small business?

A: Small business owners and the economy are still recovering from the Great Recession. As the nation’s leading job creators, small businesses create the jobs that keep our economy growing. In order to do so, entrepreneurs have to bolster their bottom lines and fuel the consumer demand that underpins economic success. With an increase to the federal minimum wage, consumers will have more money lining their pockets that they will then spend at their local businesses. This surge in consumer demand will push the economy forward and allow small businesses to continue thriving.

Q: How would a raise to the minimum wage impact small businesses?

A: Seeing as how consumer demand is the No. 1 concern for small business owners, a majority of entrepreneurs believe a raise in minimum wage will stoke that demand. According to our scientific polling, 57% of small business owners support increasing the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour and believe it should be adjusted annually to keep pace with the cost of living. In fact, 82% already pay more than the current minimum wage. A majority sees a wage increase as useful in helping them create more jobs, which in turns strengthens our economy as a whole, creating an economic domino effect.

Q: Won’t an increase to the wage raise costs for small businesses?

A: A federally mandated increase would place all small businesses on a level playing field, and would make businesses more competitive because competitors won’t have the upper-hand in undercutting them on labor costs. Small businesses also care about their employees and view them as family, which is why a majority agrees it’s not right for any employee to work full-time and only earn the current minimum wage. A stronger, more loyal workforce will decrease the rate of turnover and training costs, saving small businesses money. Additionally, the more money consumers have in their pockets, the more disposable income they’ll have to spend on small business products and services, allowing small businesses to grow and attract a more talented workforce. To learn more about the positive business impacts on a raised minimum wage, and to read testimonies from real small business owners on why they support increasing the minimum wage, visit http://www.smallbizsayraisethewage.com.

Small Business Majority CEO John Arensmeyer

Originally published in The Huffington Post

Some work has been done recently to address tax loopholes for large corporations, such as the notorious corporate tax inversions, which put small businesses at a disadvantage, but more needs to be done to help level the playing field for small businesses.

Small business owners across the country are putting countless hours into their companies, working hard to sustain and grow their businesses and with them, our economy. While the success of small businesses is key to our full economic recovery, the path to economic stability is threatened when a select few are given special tax treatment.

That’s why entrepreneurs, lawmakers and consumers are becoming increasingly concerned with large corporations’ use of a tax loophole, called an inversion, which allows big businesses to relocate their base overseas for tax reasons. This practice leaves consumers and small businesses holding the bag when it comes to bolstering the nation’s tax base, and gives big companies an unfair advantage over small business owners who must pay full freight because corporations can then use the savings to undercut them on costs. The Treasury Department recently announced it will use regulatory authority to take action on inversions, which is a step in the right direction, but we need policymakers and lawmakers to do more to close tax loopholes that harm small business owners.

Inversions allow corporations to purchase a company in a tax-friendly nation in order to relocate their headquarters to save money on taxes. For all intents and purposes the company remains a U.S. company, continuing business as usual–just enjoying a lower tax rate. The rub is that their tax burden is then shifted to small businesses and consumers.

When large corporations don’t pay their fair share, it hurts small businesses, our economy, our ability to invest in our national infrastructure and so much more. It gives those benefitting significantly from everything the American economy has to offer the ability to duck their responsibility to contribute to it.

Small business owners are tired of doing their part while big corporations use unfair loopholes to shirk their obligation to the nation that helped make them successful. In fact, Small Business Majority polled a random sample of entrepreneurs across the country and found nine in 10 owners say the practice of U.S. multinational corporations using accounting loopholes to shift their U.S. profits to offshore subsidiaries to avoid taxes is a problem, and they support eliminating these tax breaks and providing incentives to bring production home.

What’s more, 75 percent say their small business in particular is harmed when big corporations use loopholes to avoid taxes, and a sweeping 90 percent believe big corporations use loopholes to avoid taxes that small businesses have to pay.

Politicians on both sides of the aisle have agreed we need to address this issue, but they have yet to move forward on legislation that would address the practice of inversions. And while the Treasury Department’s announcement that it will use regulatory authority to help address this is welcome news, we need congressional action to help close unfair tax loopholes across the board.

Politicians talk a lot about their support for the small business community. Job creation and economic stability can start with the closure of tax loopholes that give big corporations an unfair advantage. Putting small and big companies on the same plane is a no-brainer. It would strengthen the economy and bolster small businesses.

It’s time lawmakers put their money where their mouth is, and move forward with a plan to close these unfair tax loopholes now.

On October 10, Small Business Majority successfully executed a Thunderclap campaign called “Small Biz Say Raise The Wage” that received tremendous support from small business owners across the country on efforts to raise the federal minimum wage.

Thunderclap, a crowdspeaking platform that amplifies messages on social media by saying them at the same time, is essentially an online version of a flash mob. It allows a single message to be mass-shared so that it goes beyond your own social following.

Small Business Majority created a Thunderclap campaign with a message around a petition to increase the minimum wage and launched a campaign to get 100 supporters. People sign on to the campaign using their Facebook, Twitter or Tumblr profiles. If a campaign’s goal is reached, that message will disseminate at the exact same time from all of the supporters’ social media profiles.

With our scientific opinion polling which found that 57% of entrepreneurs support an increase in minimum wage, this Thunderclap campaign was a way to mass spread that small business perspective to a much larger social audience.

Take, for example, Kristine Cranton, owner of Catalina by the Sea Gifts and Souvenirs in Avalon, CA, who already pays her employees above minimum wage because of the benefits to her business, like employee retention and much lower training costs.

“As a small business owner, I can say that I am definitely in support of increasing the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. Not only is it the right thing to do for employees, but it also makes business sense,” she said.

Then there’s Peggy Zwerver, owner of Earth – Bread + Brewery in Philadelphia, PA. Her support for an increased wage stems from the thought that all employees should be able to live off of what they earn.

“I am in support of the minimum wage increase. To me, the increase to $10.10 an hour seems like a reasonable amount to pay in order to provide my employees with a livable wage without harming my business.”

With the help and support of small business owners like Kristine and Peggy, the “Small Biz Say Raise The Wage” Thunderclap campaign was a resounding success. With 108 supporters amassing a social reach of 242,000, the message that small businesses truly do say its time to raise the wage was spread like wildfire.

Not only were these business owners able to get the business message across, such as how an increased minimum wage would boost consumer demand and level the playing field for many small businesses, but they were also able to appeal to the cause on a personal level that still held onto the positive outcomes to their business.

“We support raising the minimum wage because paying your employees a respectable wage is the right thing to do,” said Dr. Adalina Kulback and Mitchell Josim, owners of Windy City Eyes in Chicago, IL.

“We believe raising the minimum wage can help foster trust, loyalty and respect in our employees. Paying employees a living wage isn’t a whole lot to ask.”

While the storm rages on over the debate for an increased wage, one thing is for certain. The small business support for such a measure is only growing more thunderous by the day.