For Many Business Owners, There's No Plan B

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What is it about running a business that makes a person want to work an 18-hour day, wake up the next day and do it all again?

For some, it’s the way they roll. “I wouldn’t know what else to do,” declared Ric Cabot, owner and founder of Darn Tough Vermont, and a member of’s Small Business Council.

For others, it was a duty to carry on the family business. “I stepped in at 26 on the day after [my dad died], said Marc Schupan, president and CEO of Schupan & Sons. “After walking in his shoes, I truly understood the stress he experienced daily and it gave me a deep respect for the man.”

And for some perpetual optimists, the business climate, the endless regulations, the mounting taxes, all mean nothing when you have the entrepreneurial bug.

“I truly believe entrepreneurship in our DNA and can’t help but do what we do,” said Farid Virani, president and CEO of Prime Communications. “Over-reaching regulations and bureaucracies drive me nuts and make me lose more hair, but I keep seeing the glass half full.”

Indeed, business owners are looking for an easing of federal regulations and a lowering of taxes. The Sage Small Business Sentiment Survey polled 539 small business owners a month after Obama’s State of the Union speech to find out what recommendations from that speech would be the most useful for business owners. Tax relief was top of mind among 86 percent of respondents. Lifting regulations impeding access to capital, was also high on business owners’ lists, with 74 percent saying it would have an impact. Tax breaks for creating jobs was third, at 68 percent.

But even with these concerns, most members of our Small Business Council, when asked if — in this business climate, knowing what they now know, facing the uncertainties they are facing — they would do it again, for the most part, said yes. Even the most circumspect among them — those that have had to rethink their businesses as federal red tape and rising costs have changed the way they do business — have no regrets about their chosen path.

Here’s what other members of our Small Business Council had to say about starting out in business today.

Beezer Molton, president and founder, Half Moon Outfitters: “For good ideas, the time is always right. Taxes, regulations, and banking issues all conspire to drain energy over time, but the joys of getting something off the ground are immune to these issues.”

"Over-reaching regulations and bureaucracies drive me nuts and make me lose more hair, but I keep seeing the glass half full." -President and CEOPrime Communications, Farid Virani

Larry Mocha,president, ASPSCO: “I’m glad I stayed with it. Because of what I have learned, I have a new appreciation for existing businesses and those who try to start a business. However, if I were to do it again, I would like to help people start or run their businesses rather than attempt to start another one. It is way too difficult now. David Greiner, president, Greiner Buick GMC: I certainly would not start a business right now based on the regulatory environment and the lack of consumer confidence. The red tape in California to open something new is rather daunting. The only way to enter the marketplace is by going into something that would experience no startup time or revenue interruption. Having said all that, now is an ideal time to buy an existing business that could be purchased for less than its asset value assuming it has some sort of revenue stream and provides a necessary service.

Joseph Dutra, president and CEO, Kimmie Candy Co. When I started Kimmie Candy, I did not consider regulatory hurdles because I did not know about them yet; I jumped in feet first. Even when I considered all the factors in the economy, I still moved forward. Would I do it again? Yes, Yes and Yes. I like the excitement and the challenge of starting a business.

Ronald Barnes, chairman, Midwest BankCentre: I can’t speak for our business owner clients as to whether they would consider starting their business today given all the uncertainty out of Washington and economically. However, I would say the dysfunction in Washington and the perceived anti-business sentiment along with the concern over unresolved, long-term structural issues surrounding the deficit and debt picture has caused our business customer to hold back relative to new investment and hiring.

Cristi Cristich, CEO and founder, Cristek Interconnects: Tough economies are always fertile ground for creative risk takers in general, because they can design a business model to capitalize on the prevailing challenges. Having said that, this business environment has nothing to offer someone considering launching a manufacturing business as a private enterprise. The tax, healthcare and regulatory situation makes in completely untenable for me to put my capital at risk to create jobs.

David M. Greenspon, president and owner, Competitive Edge: Our manufacturing is heavily regulated by the EPA and we are impacted by the costs of skyrocketing healthcare which will be required on a mandatory basis in 2013 for almost 150 current employees. The pending tax hikes on my Sub-S corporation will also impact profitability and make it less rewarding to do the long hours of work and take risks. A slowing economy causes some customers to fall behind in payments. All business owners question whether to stay in business, sell out, or retire when they face difficult economic times. It takes so much time and energy to build a business, so I am not quick to quit. Fact is, an entrepreneur will always look to start a business rather than sitting on the sidelines.

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