Small business owners hope President Donald Trump will come through on his promise to slash Washington's red tape in a big way, allowing them to more freely invest in expansion and hiring.
Weighing on small businesses are complex regulations like the intimidating tax code, franchising liability and health insurance requirements.
Kristie Arslan's business Popped! Republic is coming up on its fifth anniversary, and the small business owner is ready to expand. Her gourmet popcorn company based in the D.C. metro area retails out of an Alexandria, Virginia–based store and food truck, as well as online.
"We've been looking at the different ways we can grow, and were looking at ways to expand through franchising," Arslan said. "We've had a lot of people ask us if this is a franchise."
But Arslan can't bring herself to take the leap just yet. On her radar is the joint-employer rule, which stems from a ruling made by the National Labor Relations Board in 2015.
The decision found that a sanitation company called Browning-Ferris Industries and its subcontractor are joint employers of workers, meaning they are both liable for things like labor violations at franchised locations. It has been a top concern for trade groups like the International Franchise Association ever since.
"It's hard for us — we don't have a lawyer on staff to help us figure it all out," Arslan said. "It would be great if [federal] agencies could take a bit more care in looking at the small business impact of regulations before they charge ahead … an overall effort to be more mindful of the small business impact would result in smarter regulation."