"Hanging Out" With the Center for Women In Business
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The U.S. Chamber hosted its first ever Google+ Hangout with Chamber COO David Chavern, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) and Cincinnati, Ohio small business owner Mary Miller.
Held in conjunction with the Chamber’s Center for Women in Business, the Hangout explored the challenges small business face in this difficult economy, in particular women owned businesses, and how they can be successful in the future.
One of the biggest challenges discussed was the uncertainty caused by the healthcare law. McMorris Rodgers cited several companies in her district who say they cannot hire because they are “uncertain over what the tax burden will be and uncertain over new regulations that are coming down right now." "Uncertainty over the cost of healthcare has brought their business to a standstill,” McMorris Rodgers said.
Miller agreed that the new healthcare law was incredibly burdensome. Miller is the CEO of Jancoa, a janitorial services company. Unlike most janitorial companies who keep their staff on a part-time basis, Jancoa relies on over 320 full-time employees. Miller says that was a deliberate decision so they could provide healthcare benefits to her workers. However, The Affordable Care Act is making that difficult.
“I have a choice of doing nothing and taking benefits away from my employees and paying a penalty tax of $640,000…or have to pay $1.4 million if I stay with benefits.” Miller said. “And I don’t have margins to afford those kinds of costs…I don’t feel like the government in any aspect, local state or federal, is trying to do anything to try and help me make my business better.”
The Hangout was broadcast live, and Chavern took questions from Facbeook and Twitter. The audience was particularly concerned with regulations that small business face. McMorris Rodgers pointed out that regulations are applied across the board, but many small businesses don’t have the resources or lawyers to spend on complying with new regulations. Trying to sort through burdensome regulations takes away from the funds used to grow business and hire employees.
Miller also discussed the complexity of the tax code: “Federal, state and local tax issues prevent us from being able to focus on our business. We spend way too much time worrying over future tax implications and figuring out how to overcome those obstacles, when we should be spending that time working with my customers and employees.”
On the subject of women-owned businesses, Miller talked about what it is like to work in a male-dominated industry. Too often, she said, women focus on their limitations and what they can’t do: “Too many people complain that life is unfair. My parents never told me life was fair, but maybe that was part of my training. I don’t expect life to be fair, but I look for ways to take advantage of my role as a certified women-owned businesses” Miller said. “Women are expected to be more compassionate, but I can use that in my role in a way my husband could not when my husband was [CEO] years ago.”