For one, Steve and Gwynn’s greatest struggle with advertising is not about getting customers in to their restaurants. While the past three years have been a struggle for them, their revenues for 2011 have thus far out-paced 2010 on a month-by-month basis, and their Limited Liability Corporation is doing well financially.
Interestingly, Steve and Gwynn’s biggest challenge is with labor. While the hourly rate at which they employ kitchen help is slightly over the government mandated minimum, they still have a difficult time finding and retaining workers for these otherwise “entry level” positions.
Why would American small business owners have difficulty finding workers in an economy that is producing painfully high unemployment? “It’s easier and more lucrative for some adults to collect unemployment benefits than it is to work,” Steve notes. In short, the unemployment benefits provided with a stroke of President Obama’s pen have, at least in Steve and Gwynn’s case severely decreased their labor pool. As for teenagers and young adults (a demographic with severely high unemployment rates) who might be candidates to work at Steve and Gwynn’s restaurants, Gwynn noted to me that “too many kids don’t want to get dirty at work, so even when we hire them they generally don’t stay very long.”
But what happens when a qualified adult applicant is willing to get trained and ready to work – surely a fulltime salaried job is “created” for them, right? “We hire as few fulltime employees as possible” Steve explains. The reason is that they can’t figure out how to fully comply with the Obamacare federal health care laws. “We paid three law firms to consult us on how to comply with that law when it first came up” Steve explains, “and all three firms gave us three different explanations. I think we’re in compliance with our folks right now, but we hire as few full-timers as possible, to reduce our risks of fines incase we’re doing it wrong.”
So Main Street small business owners Steve and Gwynn hire as few full time employees as possible. But that probably means that they are creating more part time jobs, wouldn’t you think? “We know the I.R.S. doesn’t like this” Gwynn notes, acknowledging that the Obama Administration has hired an Army of additional I.R.S. agents to make sure that, among other things, businesses aren’t failing to extend fulltime jobs to people simply as a means of avoiding the healthcare benefits required for full time workers. “We put ourselves at risk if we hire somebody full time, and we’re susceptible to different risks if we hire people part time” she says. “We’re kind of on the run from our government, but we’re doing our best to stay strong.”
President Obama could learn much from everyday small business owners about how genuine, authentic “demand,” and not legislation, is what creates a job. He could also learn why his policies are eliminating them.
Austin Hill is an Author, Consultant, and Host of "Austin Hill's Big World of Small Business," a syndicated talk show about small business ownership and entrepreneurship. He is Co-Author of the new release "The Virtues Of Capitalism: A Moral Case For Free Markets." , Author of "White House Confidential: The Little Book Of Weird Presidential History," and a frequent guest host for Washington, DC's 105.9 WMAL Talk Radio.