It’s National Small Business Week, an annual event hosted by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). Smaller companies, which include many contract glaziers and glass and mirror shops, employ more than half of all workers in the U.S. So what challenges are those firms facing?
Taxes are a concern. According to the U.S. House of Representatives’ Small Business Committee, research shows that companies with fewer than 20 employees spend more than $1,200 per employee on tax paperwork. The Death Tax — also known as the Estate Tax — is another big issue. According to a study by the Joint Economic Committee, the Death Tax is the top reason small family businesses do not survive from one generation to the next. Sometimes, a large Death Tax bill requires an heir to sell equipment or land to pay the government, which can either force the company to shrink or close.
Regulations can be burdensome as well, particularly for the glass and glazing industry. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently issued its final “Silica Rule,” intended to limit workers’ exposure to breathable crystalline silica — a major concern for industries that deal with glass and construction in general. Last year, the Construction Industry Safety Coalition (CISC) released a study claiming the rule will cost the U.S. construction industry $5 billion per year—roughly $4.5 billion per year more than OSHA’s estimates. Additionally, the Lead: Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) rule enforced by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is often expensive for remodeling and installation companies, which are almost always small businesses with a handful of employees.
Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Colo.) railed against excessive government regulation at the recent Washington Briefing Breakfast, part of the Window and Door Manufacturers Association’s spring legislative conference in Washington, D.C.
“We’re now spending $2 trillion on regulatory costs,” Tipton said. “There are currently 4,000 new regulations in the pipeline.”
Tipton also said the drive for a $15 minimum wage will hurt those it purports to help while driving up costs for small businesses. “We’re going to see people lose their jobs” to automation and other labor-saving technologies because of higher minimum wages, he said.
Healthcare is another big concern, especially since the passage of the Affordable Care Act.
“Small business owners rank the cost of health insurance as their most severe problem in operating their business out of 75 potential issues, with 56 percent of small business owners finding it a ‘critical’ problem,” said Holly Wade, the Director of Research and Policy Analysis for the National Federation of Independent Business Research Foundation, during recent testimony to Congress. “The high cost of health insurance is the main reason owners do not offer employer-sponsored health insurance and the main reason owners discontinue providing the benefit. And for those offering, many owners annually confront the arduous task of adjusting profit expectations, insurance plans, cost-sharing and other mechanisms to help absorb often erratic changes in total premium costs.”
Finally, access to capital is another big worry.
Economist Robert Shapiro, a senior fellow at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, tells Inc. that there has been a big drop-off in bank lending to small businesses since the Great Recession.
“Between 1995 and 2007, bank lending to companies with less than $10 million in annual revenue averaged about 37 percent of total bank commercial loan portfolios, according to Shapiro’s research,” Inc.‘s Jeremy Quittner writes. “Since 2012, that number has shrunk to 26 percent. There are many reasons for the decline, but a prime factor is an aversion to risk when it comes to funding startups, Shapiro says.