Four Political Conundrums to Make Small Business Voters Think Independent at the Polls

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With the Democratic and Republican Conventions hunting intensely for votes, it’s open season on small business owners. Kerry promises to revisit NAFTA while corralling 'Benedict Arnold CEOs,' while Bush is touting bureaucratic commissions. As politicians beat war drums over outsourcing, steel tariffs and global economy, small business voters must decide whether to trust in political decisions or follow their best, highest use to grow their businesses. Small business consultant Andy Birol says look to yourself, not the issues, because the issues are full of holes.

“Follow your instinct for your best and highest use, and don’t even try to vote with your pocketbook. The reality is that politicians will promise anything, but can do little to meet the collective needs of America’s 24 million small business owners," said Birol, owner of Birol Growth Consulting in Cleveland.

Birol contends the small business sector is too diverse to benefit much from political agendas. A new prospect recently told Birol he figured him to be a Republican because he had an American flag on his lapel. And when Birol wondered out loud how much Ohio businesses must now spend to keep guns off their premises, a business owner called him a liberal.

“When someone starts painting owners into a political corner, the best response is to go back to their original focus on growing their business by growing their best and highest use. As an Independent, I believe the old labels are misleading and often incorrect. The truth is that there is great divergence among small business owners, and there is no single political issue that impacts all business owners equally."

Birol notes the following political conundrums:

1. "If consumers don’t want to buy products from countries that export US jobs, then those countries we outsource from could in all fairness be justified in boycotting American products. That’s why restrictions on free trade don’t work.”

2. "If American small businesses want government completely out of regulation, there will be no standard for preventing reckless accounting practices from ravaging small businesses when big companies go bankrupt. No small business has the legal fortitude to outlast a large company with deep pockets."

3. "Raising tariffs to protect domestic steel producers hurts domestic steel consumers. Steel buyers would be forced to pay higher prices. As an example, small companies that bend, cut and assemble steel will have to pass higher prices onto their customers.”

4. "Global economy is already woven into our commerce. If we want others to buy American, we are essentially depriving American businesses of the right to shop at Wal-Mart, service foreign cars, or distribute foreign technology.”

Corporate America may yield significant weight through lobbying, but small businesses don't have that luxury, Birol said. "Even trade associations that represent small business interests survive first by selling their own members health insurance and other profitable services. We have to be our own advocates. Until the day I see Willie Nelson putting on a benefit concert for the family consulting business, I really can't see where any political figure is looking out for my small business."

Andy Birol is owner of Birol Growth Consulting in Cleveland, author of “Focus. Accomplish. Grow...The Business Owner's Guide to Growth.” For more information contact Birol at 440-349-1970; Web site: (; Online Media Center:


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