October 2, 2014

How Many Small-Business Half Truths Make a Whole?

Earlier this week I posted True or Not? Top 10 Election Talking Points on Small Business, a slide show with reader voting, on the Huffington Post. Here’s how that turned out – the points listed in order from most true would have been a 1, to most false, which was a 10:

1. The government favors large business over small 3.8
2. The government can keep U.S. jobs at home. 4.2
3. Raising minimum wage helps struggling families 4.4
4. Small business drives economic recovery 5.4
5. Government policy makes or breaks small business 7.0
6. The government protects U.S. business from foreign competition 7.1
7. Hiring goes up when taxes go down 8.1
8. Small business owners vote as a block (bloc) 8.1
9. The government gives free money to start a business 8.5
10. Immigration hurts small business 8.6

 

The biggest surprise here, in my opinion, is that slightly less than half the readers believe small business drives the economic recovery. I would have thought that was true. I’ve seen research showing that small business generates most of the new jobs in our economy.

The closest statement to truth, as voted by Huffington Post readers, was that the government favors large business. Frankly I was surprised to see so many people thinking points two and three were true; I don’t.

I did set it up to be skeptical. I believe that most of the talking points we get (ad nauseum) during national election campaigns are half-baked half truths. I think the voting there confirmed that.

So my question, for you and me, here, on Smallbiztrends: what do you think? What key points should be added here? Does small business drive economic recovery? Does government policy make or break small business? Do we (small business owners) vote as a bloc?

12 Comments ▼

Tim Berry


Tim Berry Tim Berry is Founder and Chairman of Palo Alto Software, Founder of Bplans, Co-Founder of Borland International, Stanford MBA, and co-founder of Have Presence. He is the author of several books and thousands of articles on business planning, small business, social media and startup business.

12 Reactions

  1. I can understand why people felt that the statement “Government policy makes or breaks small business” was more false than true. Government regulation and policy doesn’t make or break small businesses, but it does drag down SMBs. Think of what SMBs could do if the time, energy and resources currently expended on compliance were redirected to marketing or hiring?

  2. Hi Tim,

    I think a lot of this is open to interpretation. Like Robert says, I think government policy does drag down small businesses — I’m not going to be “broken” by government, mainly because I’m stronger than that. But the question is, how much of my resources and time will be spent dealing with government that could have been devoted elsewhere?

    And I would say right now, I think our Federal government is not too favorable to EITHER big business OR small business. Some of our state and local governments are not too favorable, either.

    And hiring may not go up when taxes go down. Remember, though, hiring is just one aspect of business — we invest in our small businesses in many forms: engaging consultants and service providers; purchasing products; R&D; advertising and lead generation; paying rent; and so on. Investment in business is done with a finite amount of money that small businesses have. The more I need to spend on taxes and regulation, the less I have to spend on other things to grow my business, because my cash is finite.

    All of these points in mind, I would agree that there’s a lot of disinformation being bandied about — by both political parties. And a lot of over-dramatization. I for one take everything with a grain of salt when it’s said by a politician.

    – Anita

  3. Anita, yes, I agree with your that interpretation is a key point.

    Two different comments on the Huffpo piece complained about the lack of facts; I should have bolstered each point with links to the facts. And that serves to me as a reminder, just as you point out, about all the disinformation.

    On all of these points we can go do a good search and turn up lots of confusing and contradictory alleged facts, research that starts from a point of view and then confirms it. It’s frustrating how easily we can lose track of truth when we look for the hard facts.

    So I’m with you on the grain of salt, except that maybe we need a boulder of it.

    -Tim

  4. In any election season, Tim, you might need even more than a boulder of salt to see past all the disinformation being thrown around on all sides. Perhaps, if we could climb to the top of a salt mountain we might stand a chance.

    I would agree with Anita that many governments on all levels are not favorable to businesses large or small. When it comes to politicians, it is always wise to remember the old saying “whoever robs Peter to pay Paul is going to be very popular with Paul.”

    As for small business owners voting in a bloc, our company deals with thousands of small business owners and I’ve found such a wide range of personalities and lifestyles, that I doubt that research would reveal bloc voting by small business owners.

    Your post raises many interesting points. I’m curious to see further comments.

  5. Jim, ha, I hadn’t heard that “whoever robs Peter” one before, and I love it. It has so many real-world implications these days, doesn’t it?

  6. Too many it seems. The political vibe from both parties is so busy creating villains that they are going to protect us from that we are unable to see or believe in heroes. Those who are willing to take risks to build their dreams might not fit into form flattering leotards but I suspect they will be the ones who become the invisible superheroes of our next economic boom. I am glad that I work at a company that works with these “dreamers.”

  7. Hey there! I’ve been reading your site for a long time now and finally got the bravery to go ahead and give you a shout out from Atascocita Tx! Just wanted to tell you keep up the good job!

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