By Noah Breslow on Monday 23 September 2019
Noah Breslow, Chairman and CEO of OnDeck, says US small businesses owners are an optimistic and powerful force in politics.
It’s often said that Presidential elections turn on the state of the economy.
Small business owners are listening carefully to the recent economic headlines and watching closely for the impact on their businesses – whether it’s the implications of an international trade dispute or the benefits of more favourable tax policies.
This summer, I’ve travelled across the U.S. and met with small business owners as part of the OnDeck Summer of Small Business tour. At each stop, I had a front-row seat to the views of small business owners on the state of the U.S. economy. They made it clear that economic issues are critical to their choices in the 2020 election.
Why listen to small business owners on the economy? Well, for one, their impact on the economy is unmatched. According to the SBA 2019 Small Business profile, United States small businesses employ 59.9 million people, or 47.3 per cent of the private workforce. Firms with fewer than 100 employees have the largest share of small business employment. The most recent SBA data shows small businesses created 1.8 million net jobs in 2016 with firms employing fewer than 20 employees experiencing the largest gains, adding 1.2 million net jobs. Disruptions to international supply chains or changes in tax policies directly impact these small businesses that power the U.S. economy.
Despite headlines about economic uncertainty, one takeaway from my sit-downs with small business owners this summer was that they remain confident. And it came through loud and clear in our recent small business survey on the 2020 presidential election and economy. More than half of small business owners told us they are either ‘Very Optimistic’ or ‘Somewhat Optimistic’ about the economic outlook for their businesses.
In that same survey of small business owners, 93 per cent said they definitely plan to vote in the 2020 election and 60 per cent said they already know which candidate they plan to vote for.
Given the immense impact of small business owners on our economy, candidates should remember they vote in big numbers. Our survey found that the important economic issues for small business owners included tax policy, job growth, government support for small businesses, the overall business climate, and immigration.
One last takeaway from the summer. Improving access to capital remains a key issue for small business owners because it is the crucial ingredient of small business growth and success. Every small business owner I met with from Maryland to Utah stressed this point. Why is access to financing so important? According to one recent study, for every dollar in lending to small businesses, sales of small business borrowers increase by an average of $2.31. That same one dollar in lending also creates an average of $3.79 in gross output in our broader economy. (2) Small businesses need financing to grow, invest, and weather bumps in the road – either in their business or the economy overall.
The numbers tell the story, and if you don’t believe the numbers, just go speak to a few local small business owners. The success of our small businesses will shape the overall health of our economy for years to come – and just may elect our next president.
Noah Breslow is Chairman and CEO of OnDeck, the largest non-bank online lender to small business in the US.