With the continuing COVID-19 challenges, small businesses must continue to innovate to survive. Given limited resources, small businesses are forced to stay engaged and make difficult tradeoffs. What if elected leaders applied some small business foundational rules to government functions? Let’s look at three areas: budgeting, leadership, and urgency.
1) Budgeting – Wouldn’t it be great for small business owners if they could just print money as they needed to pay rent, employees, etc? All would be able to stay in business forever with no downside. The reality is – there are always difficult tradeoffs to manage cashflow. Do you pay the rent or utilities first? How about suppliers? Small business owners need to prioritize spending with their limited resources. Would it be reckless for them if already deep in debt to add unnecessary expenses such as expensive cosmetic renovations while not paying suppliers? What would happen if our elected officials looked at what the people in the nation needed to make it through these difficult times versus using adverse conditions to add unneeded debt to future generations?
2) Leadership – Very few employees in a small business understand that the owner gets paid last, if at all, especially in difficult times. They see the top-line sales but not the bottom-line margin. Small business owners take care of their customers and employees first. We’re even starting to see large corporations use some of these lessons. The top levels of management from a few corporations have taken pay cuts to minimize layoffs. As additional stimulus is discussed ranging from one to three trillion dollars, and more. Have any elected officials offered to reduce their salaries or reduce expenses? What about when they were not able to “work” – did they get “laid off” and forced to apply for unemployment (that took months to be paid out)? It takes leadership to share in the pain and make some personal sacrifices.
3) Urgency – If you had a restaurant and suddenly it had a kitchen fire shutting down the business, would you take five weeks off while employees were not getting paid and the business shuttered? Small business owners show grit and fight through tough times. They would work night and day doing everything they could to reopen ASAP. No business would survive with the political partnership and bickering and lack of urgency.
The government can “print” money – creating massive debt – and just kick the can down the road. Small businesses cannot. The Federal budget number is so large it is next to impossible to understand what that translates to for every individual and family long term. For every trillion spent it equates to an additional three thousand dollars of debt per person in the country. No matter if I had my own business, worked for others, or asked our employee to manage expenses, it was to share in one basic value. Spend the company’s money like your own (and if wasteful – it was denied). Maybe a line item veto would help reduce some of the pork being loaded into the budgets.
Demonstrate true leadership now that the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) was allowed to run out – how about the elected officials don’t take a paycheck until something is passed to help those impacted?
This goes to the final point – urgency. Many people that were living paycheck-to-paycheck providing goods and services that are now unemployed need help. So many small businesses are still forced to remain closed or at limited capacity and cannot cover their overhead. How about staying in session until a non-bloated solution is in place. Maybe make some cuts in pet projects and “non-essential” spending. That is what the rest of us all need to do every day.
Feel free to post comments or email them to me. Small Business, Big Lessons ® – Time for Big Government to Learn from Small Business.
About the Author:
Gregory Woloszczuk is an entrepreneur and experienced tech executive that helps small business owners grow their top and bottom line. Gregory believes in straight talk and helping others see things they need to see but may not want to with a focus on taking responsibly for one’s own business. He and his wife, Maureen, started GMW Carolina in 2006.
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