Dear Santa: Well, another year has gone by. My business is surviving, by a thread, but I’m still facing lots of challenges. You know I’ve been really, really good this year (maybe that’s the problem with my business — I’m too darned good for my own good and should borrow more from the “ruthless entrepreneur” playbook, but never mind).
1. A simplified sales tax system that will protect “brick and mortar” retail stores (by requiring online retailers to pay tax on sales made to their customers), and increase state sales tax revenues (by requiring sellers to collect tax on sales made to anyone in the United States, not just in their states), but keeping it simple for everyone (by requiring sellers to collect tax under the laws of their own states, and remit the tax to their own state tax authority, not the states where their customers are located).
2. A simple, easy to apply test that would enable me to figure out which of my workers should be treated as “employees”, and which as “independent contractors”, for income tax purposes, without having to involve my lawyer, and my accountant.
3. A law prohibiting large company bullies for suing little people like me for infringing their trademarked brands, when the product or service I’m selling has nothing whatsoever to do with the industry they are in, and there’s no possibility anyone will confuse the two of us with each other.
4. Simple, easy to follow instructions telling me when I can, and cannot, use content from someone else’s book, music recording or website in my marketing and promotional materials without getting the copyright owner’s permission.
5. Health insurance for me — not my employees — that I can deduct.
6. Clarification of how benefit corporations — a new legal entity that combines for-profit and nonprofit benefits — will be taxed by the IRS, so that well-intentioned folks can set up their businesses this way.
7. A generation of young workers with a strong work ethic who don’t expect life to hand them everything the way their parents did.
8. Immigration laws that allow only “the right people” in — people (whatever they look like, wherever they come from, whichever direction they face when they pray) who are willing to work hard, make sacrifices for their families, live clean and moral lives, and invest in their own education and personal development so they will never, ever become dependent on other people, or want to blow them to smithereens. Oh, and it would also be great if they could speak English well enough that my customers can understand them.
9. Customers who recognize that the excellent service and personal assistance they receive from small businesses require that they pay a slightly higher price than the online deep discounters, and are willing to pay that premium.
10. Federal, state and local government officials who have actually worked in a small business at some point, understand our concerns, and know how to balance their budgets the way we have to do ours.
11. Changes to the tax laws allowing startups to issue shares to employees, directors and others in exchange for “sweat equity” services without creating massive tax headaches for the recipients.
12. Lenders that are willing to take our cash flows and future prospects into account when deciding whether or not to lend us money, not just our credit scores.
13. Federal, state and local government officials who recognize that every time they increase taxes or otherwise make it more expensive for me to run my business, those increased costs come dollar for dollar out of my own pocket, and that I can’t always raise my prices to cover them.
14. A national school system that integrates business and financial skills into the educational curriculum from kindergarten through grade 12, so that kids’ understanding of business and profit-making activity isn’t limited solely to the misinformation they get from disgruntled anti-capitalist teachers or the villains in animated Hollywood movies.
15. A law making website for owners at least partially responsible for monitoring the communications that take place on their sites, and making sure they do not lead to criminal activity or terrorism.
Of course, anyone who believes that any of these wishes will ever be fulfilled in our lifetimes probably … also believes in Santa Claus.