The small business community is being asked by all parties – the Governor’s Office, Speaker’s Office and Democratic and the Republican Legislators what our position is on the budget mess. I have had the opportunity to discuss this with small business owners from all over California and all seem to approach the problem the same way — how would we treat the budget problem the state faces with lessons we’ve learned as small business owners?

When a small business owner has more dollars going out than coming in we take the
following steps:

First, take very good care of our existing customers. We don’t want to make it harder for our customers to do business with us; in fact, we would prefer to make it easier. Don’t put burdensome regulations and higher prices on the conditions for doing business in California that might force businesses to go to another State for a better deal. Make sure that taxpaying businesses are treated respectfully. For example, don’t have a small business person hang on the phone to a state agency for more than an hour to get an answer from a government official that the business person needs to operate the business.

Second, look for new customers. There are too many stories of businesses leaving California. Make California business friendly and attract new businesses to California. That will increase revenue to government.

Third, in tough times we have to cut costs. We ask our employees for ideas and offer incentives to them for positive results. We postpone major purchases; we eliminate waste; we get creative on gasoline usage for business and our employees, we do black
and white printing instead of color printing and the list goes on. In other words, we look for ways to do things differently and more efficiently.

Fourth, we work with and protect our employees. It goes without saying – we don’t add employees but we do everything possible to keep good employees. It is not cost effective to lose good employees and have to train new ones when the economy goes back up.

Finally, be prepared to review your budget on an on-going basis. Make adjustments during the year if the revenue flow does not match budget projections. And, put some money aside for tough times – a rainy day fund.

So, the bottom line (and, yes, we are always concerned about the bottom line) our message to Sacramento is we think common sense approaches that all businesses face in difficult times can be used to address the state budget problem.

One more thing–Don’t put the small business owners at a disadvantage when you do the budget or budget reform. They are a major part of the solution for job creation and growing the economy.