Getting Down to Business: Advocating for Small Businesses on Capitol Hill
FCM’s VP of Operations, Anika Jackson is a member of the Intuit Small Business Council which represents over 10 million small businesses. She recently had the privilege of participating in a visit to Capitol Hill to brief policy makers on the challenges facing small business owners and advocate for policies that support their growth and […]
FCM’s VP of Operations, Anika Jackson is a member of the Intuit Small Business Council which represents over 10 million small businesses. She recently had the privilege of participating in a visit to Capitol Hill to brief policy makers on the challenges facing small business owners and advocate for policies that support their growth and success. Here is Anika’s account of the visit.
One of the most valuable aspects of being part of the Intuit Small Business Council is the opportunity to collaborate with diverse entrepreneurs from various industries. From tea and coffee companies to educational technology companies, manufacturers, medical and logistic companies, apparel businesses, virtual administration, bookstores, and marketing and communications companies, we have all faced similar operational challenges. Despite our different verticals, our shared experiences enable us to understand the common struggles of running a small business.
During our meet up in Washington D.C., we set three primary objectives to guide our advocacy efforts:
- Share the priorities of small businesses and self-employed individuals with key policymakers on Capitol Hill, ensuring that the voices of Intuit customers are heard.
- Advocate for policy changes to address the specific needs of small businesses.
- Foster meaningful connections and networking opportunities among council members.
Our journey began at Intuit’s DC Headquarters, where we gathered to discuss the issues each of us faced and to prepare our talking points for our Day on the Hill. What made this experience truly thrilling was the opportunity to engage with elected and appointed officials, including influential figures like Representative Roger Williams, Chairman of the House Small Business Committee, Senator Ben Cardin, Chair of the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship, Isabella Casillas Guzmán, the head of the Small Business Administration, and Deanne Millison, Vice President Kamala Harris’s chief economic advisor.
Our advocacy work focused on three main topics that we believe are crucial for the success of small businesses: digital adoption, access to capital, and frictionless regulations.
Digital adoption emerged as a pressing concern, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Small businesses had to quickly adapt and embrace digital technologies to survive. However, our policymakers and government leaders have yet to update policies and resources to support small businesses in this digital shift, leaving them at a disadvantage in both domestic and global markets.
Statistics demonstrate the strong correlation between digital adoption and small business success. Small businesses that incorporate multiple technology platforms into their operations witness growth in sales, profits, and employment. Despite the importance of digital tools, many small businesses lack the resources and guidance to make informed decisions about which solutions suit their unique needs. We urged Congress to implement legislation that modernizes the Small Business Administration (SBA) by including digital tools as an allowable use of funds, ensuring affordable access to digital technologies.
To achieve this, we proposed several policy asks, including clarifying SBA policy to support digitization tools, establishing an educational program to promote awareness of digital tools, and conducting a study on the impact of limited access to digital tools on underserved and rural markets.
Access to capital remains a significant obstacle for small businesses. According to the Intuit QuickBooks Small Business Insights 2023 survey, a majority of small businesses rely on personal savings for funding, while securing loans from commercial lenders proves challenging. The existing capital market structure favors established firms and overlooks underserved entrepreneurs. This lack of access to capital stifles innovation and hampers the growth of small businesses.
We emphasized the importance of introducing new distribution channels and reforming existing SBA loan programs to enhance access to capital for small business owners, particularly those who have been historically underserved. This includes making microloans more accessible through traditional and nontraditional lenders, improving transparency in financing terms, and supporting the SBA’s efforts to expand its licensing capacity for non-bank lenders.
Regulations also pose a significant burden on small businesses. Compliance with complex federal, state, and local regulations drains entrepreneurs’ time, money, and energy, diverting their focus from business growth. We urged policymakers to streamline the regulatory landscape and reduce the barriers to starting a business, ensuring that entrepreneurs can navigate the process efficiently and at a minimal cost.
To achieve this, we proposed directing the SBA to create a single list of all requirements to start a business, accompanied by easy-to-understand guides. Coordinated efforts across Entrepreneurial Development Programs and federal and state incentives to encourage local authorities to reduce barriers were also part of our policy asks.
In conclusion, our Day on the Hill as members of the Intuit Small Business Council was an enlightening and productive experience. We had the privilege of engaging with policymakers, sharing our perspectives, and advocating for policies that address the challenges faced by small businesses. Through our focus on digital adoption, access to capital, and frictionless regulations, we hope to drive positive change and create an environment that nurtures the growth and success of small businesses. By amplifying the voices of entrepreneurs, we can foster an ecosystem that empowers them to thrive in an ever-evolving business landscape.
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