"The Master value is trust. There are no relationships that can survive for very long without it."

- Jim Amos

Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren: If Small Business People Are Heroes, Where is Their Support?

August 21st, 2012

Fox News host asks why franchisees are heroes

Jim Amos on Fox News with Greta Van Susteren

Greta Van Susteren interviewed me Monday on her Fox News show and asked a question entrepreneurs have been asking for the last few years: Why has support for small businesses seemingly dried up and why has there been so much shrill rhetoric, finger pointing, and blame casting coming out of Washington towards business in general?

The recession was a shattering experience for many in the business community, forcing layoffs and closures and stalling plans for growth. December 2007 through June 2009 was a terrible time for the economy, but the recession has officially been over for three years now. So why aren’t small businesses driving the recovery as has been the case in every other post-recessionary cycle in our history?

As I told Greta, I think small business owners — and franchisees in particular — are heroes because they take risks by tapping into their life savings and assets to start businesses. The franchise industry has a $2.1 trillion economic impact which makes the franchise industry larger than any other two economic sectors combined and accounts for nearly 10% of the private economy. By betting on themselves, franchisees create prosperity for themselves, their families and their communities.

The problem, however, is that it appears our nation’s leaders seem unwilling to bet on them.

It’s still too hard to get a small business loan. Over the last three years, tightened lending standards have prevented half of loan seekers from opening franchise businesses. Historically, entrepreneurs have used cash to cover 10 to 20 percent of a franchise purchase’s initial cost and used home equity and business loans to finance the rest. Now, banks are often asking for 40 to 60 percent cash upfront, and the housing market collapse ensured that few people can tap home equity to finance the difference.

Yet the real problem isn’t with the banks. During a small business summit last year, I had a chance to speak with Obama administration officials and banking executives about the billions banks are sitting on.

Privately, bankers complain that risk-averse regulators have created policies that discourage lending. Since 2008, banks that issue commercial or business loans have faced the threat of credit downgrades from the same “smartest people in the world” who oversaw the housing bubble, financial crisis and economic collapse.

So the problem goes beyond the lending gap. It includes information and philosophical gaps that swallow the kinds of loans small business owners need to rescue the economy.  As Greg Shrerill stated, the political cacophony has to stop and business needs to restate the moral and ethical case for free enterprise, free markets and free people, the system that has lifted more people out of poverty and created more wealth than any other economic construct in history.

Tasti D-Lite and Planet Smoothie CEO Jim Amos has more than 30 years of experience guiding successful franchise companies such as Mail Boxes Etc. He is the co-author of The Tasti D-Lite Way: Social Media Marketing Lessons for Building Loyalty and a Brand Customers Crave (McGraw-Hill), and was inducted into the International Franchise Association’s Hall of Fame in February.

4 Comments

  1. Posted August 22, 2012 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

    Jim,

    I certainly agree with you philosophically. I’m a free market person to the core. But I’m also a realist. And reality tells me that restating the “moral and ethical case for free enterprise” has to come to terms with what is a broad perception that unregulated free enterprise is what seized up the credit markets in the first place. That perception has led to, among other things, Dodd-Frank, over 2,000 pages of additional laws and, so far, thousands of pages of related regulations.

    Wherever one stands on what caused the “Great Recession,” one does not have to dig very deep to find the bad actors that enticed unsophisticated (blameless or not) people to roll the dice (and lose) with their savings or financially structured lipstick on a pen full of pigs. So, I think that a simple restatement, without more, will blow away to oblivion with the next economic tempest. The “more” must be a moral and ethical commitment by business leaders to get ahead of and obviate regulation by some form of self-imposed principle-based standards that have teeth, consequences and broad acceptance.

    Mike Sheehan

    • Jim Amos
      Posted August 23, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

      Mike,

      Thank you very much for you comments and thoughts. Of course much more is required but please understand five minutes on air offers little time to discuss the obvious but requires strategic statements that are a call to action.

      Also, it is incumbent upon me to point out that the economic crisis has caused a great deal of pain along with what appears to be a general bashing of our entire free enterprise system. Yet, with the exception of those companies that were part of the system of easy credit and disguised risk American business has nothing to apologize for.

      Our economic system has pulled more people out of poverty and created more wealth than any other economic construct in history. That is why America has been a magnet for folks who want to participate in the dream of business ownership.

      It is my view that it would be a profound mistake to allow this time of economic crisis to to be used by those that would grow the size of government to a point that would fundamentally shift our country from a free enterprise system to some type of secular social context.

      The “more” you are referring to will have no home in such a system where in fact the incentive to participate would be essentially gone. So, I agree with you but we must make sure that we still have freedom and liberty left to pursue that end.

      Best,

      Jim

    • Posted August 24, 2012 at 10:29 am | Permalink

      Great knowledge put you by Mike. Agree with your point of view.

      • Posted August 24, 2012 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

        Jim, I couldn’t agree more. And apologies for forgetting the 5-minute context of your remarks. Mike

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