Yes, it’s Difficult to Run a Business

Stuart Waldman
President, Valley Industry & Commerce Association

Most of us know the routine as an employee. You wake up, clock in for work, take your required rest and meal breaks, go back to work, clock out for the day, and then go home just to get ready to do it all over again. Some band even wrote a song about it. For most employees, this is what a typical day looks like with all the normal things in between like following the direction of supervisors or managers and completing tasks to meet deadlines or quotas. 

As an employer, you hold the responsibility of ensuring smooth operations and you pay your employees for their hard work. Together, we accomplish common goals that work towards the success of everyone involved. We cannot have one without the other.

Unfortunately, the two sides have been pitted against each other in recent years, and even more so in recent months. Proposals and legislation like increased minimum wage, expanded paid sick leave, rebuttable presumptions for COVID-19, and of course, the ban on independent contractors, have all resulted in this sort of animosity that employees have towards employers. There is this belief that employers make decisions with the worst intentions in mind for their employees and that every employer is trying to shortchange their workers. Any employer will tell you this is far from the truth.

At the start of each day, the first thought on an employer’s mind is not “How am I going to exploit my employees?” As an employer, your thoughts, especially during an economic crisis, are: “How am I going to keep this business alive? How am I going to keep my employees employed? How are we going to thrive?” These are the thoughts that run through an employer’s mind – these are the thoughts that run through my mind.

Yes, there are a few bad actors who should not be employers or running businesses, but there are employment laws to protect employees in those types of situations. For the honest employer, the laws and added regulations coming out of City Hall and Sacramento are making it impossible to keep employees employed and keep a business alive. An employer isn’t necessarily against more paid sick leave or increased minimum wage, we just know that decisions will need to be made when it comes to balancing the company’s budget.

It takes a lot to run a business. And it takes a lot to make a business successful. You need a space in which to operate; you need equipment, supplies and tools; you need workers; you need to pay those workers; you need to pay for business insurance; you need to have a budget reserve; you need pay taxes and fees; and you need to be informed on the most up-to-date business rules and regulations to ensure you remain in compliance. The difficult part of being informed of all the business rules and regulations is that they are always changing and there are different rules required by the city, county, state and federal governments. It makes it incredibly difficult when the Los Angeles City Council approves new rules one week, the county approves different rules on the same issue the following week, and the state also approves a new set of rules on the very same issue the following month. 

And don’t even get me started on the trial lawyers.

While employees are fighting to get more from their employer, employers are fighting just to stay open. The rules and regulations approved by lawmakers have inevitably resulted in increased costs. This means employers often raise the prices of their products or services just to be able to pay their workers and keep the lights on. Some have been left with no choice but to reduce the number of employees on their payroll and have purchased machines in place of their workers to cut costs. This is why you have likely seen prices increase at the grocery store or your favorite retail store, and likely why you’ve seen restaurants have machines take your order instead of a traditional cashier. Being forced to make these types of decisions are not easy, but it is the result of the continuous policies piled on employers.

Regulations, even the most well-intentioned ones, simply tie the employer’s hands behind their back, severely limiting what decisions they could make regarding the well-being of the company and of the employees. It wouldn’t matter that the employer has a much better understanding of their company’s unique situation, less flexibility in decision-making can be detrimental to a business.

I know for myself it was difficult to fully understand what it took to lead a team and the responsibility of being an employer when I was younger and beginning my career. I think for most employees it is difficult to see this bigger picture until you become an employer yourself. Groups that are opportunistically using the COVID-19 pandemic to further pit employees against employers should be ashamed of themselves and they know who they are (labor unions). A good employer takes care of their employees, pays them fair wages, provides them benefits, and encourages growth – all the while being responsible for making sound financial decisions. We can’t do this if groups and lawmakers continue to impede on an employer’s ability to make decisions that are best for their businesses

Remember, the only thing that makes an employee an employee is an employer. We’ll be left with little to no employers if we continue to make it impossible to operate in Los Angeles and California.

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