How long will it take to get back to normal, now that the smoke has cleared?
Lawmakers in Washington have finally agreed on a deal to raise the debt ceiling and get the government back in business.
It’s about time. Over the past 16 days, we’ve heard from anxious, frustrated and angry business owners. Many said their businesses were suffering because of the uncertainty caused by the shutdown. Still more complained to us about the lack of leadership (please see our roundup of comments below).
Across the country, entrepreneurs lost customers or failed to receive SBA financing as a result of the impasse. Yesterday we heard from the National Women Business Owners Corporation, a certifier of women-owned businesses, that the shutdown had severely affected its government contractors. Many women-owned businesses were in “extremely serious situations,” according to the group’s director, Janet Harris-Lange, because of disruptions to cash flow. In other words, contractors were continuing to supply products or services, but without any idea of when payment would be received — never a good situation for any business owner.
The government has come back to life — but it’s unclear how soon the flow of payments and services will begin. As of mid-morning Thursday, a banner on the SBA’s site still said: “Due to the government shutdown, information on this site may not be up to date.” As a member of our TSE community, consultant Deborah Culp, put it: “It is going to be very difficult to get back on track after the proverbial smoke has cleared.”
We followed the shutdown closely, and rounded up your thoughts on the situation below. Got one? Leave it in our comment section, or email us at [email protected].
If money was not tight enough before, the U.S. government crisis has placed my client base under a tremendous amount of stress and indecision about even staying in business! I have already felt the trickle-down effect as a result. Just day before yesterday, one of my clients (an author) shut down our contract due to her sources not being able to pay her or pay her on time. I’m sure it is this way all around and I am quite perplexed over it all, to say the least. It is going to be very difficult to get back on track after the proverbial smoke has cleared.
–Deborah A. Culp, freelance journalist & consultant
I have been waiting for exactly 1 year to hear from the IRS regarding my request for exempt status for my animal rescue (Annie’s Rescue Foundation). I am the owner of Annie’s Ruff House, a for-profit doggie daycare in Norman, Okla. I submitted all of the required paperwork in August 2012 and [on two occasions this year] received a letter requesting additional documents. I complied (more money too!). In September I got a letter stating I had until Oct. 29 to submit one more document or they would close my case. The IRS has been closed since. So I have submitted my document, and I am starting year 2 of waiting for this process. Meanwhile my state was wiped out by a tornado and I took in dogs that were displaced by this event. The people that donated to me for that may or may not be able to deduct that from their taxes. People are losing confidence in me and this whole project has lost steam. I have done my job and now I wait. The behavior of our government is both embarrassing and unprofessional.
–Sereta Wilson, Annie’s Ruff House
We manage a food pantry as part of our services and we have received an increase in phone calls for request. Our donations are down due to people are uncertain as to what to do about spending money. They do not know when they will go back to work (government workers). Other businesses are suffering due to people not buying as much, only what they absolutely need to buy. This is horrible and needs to end soon.
–Hadayai Majeed, Baitul Salaam Network Inc.
The shutdown has angered all our clients and reinforced that once someone is elected they forget about who they represent and play politics. It does not make a difference what party our clients belong to they are all mad at every one. Even those who voted for Obama are disgusted. Many have differing onions on specifics but do believe he should be leading discussions on what is truly best for the country. If they were my employees I would have fired them long ago and looked for employees that keep “What is best for the country as a whole” as their daily mantra. They should be thinking of only that.
–Patricia Raskob, Raskob Kambourian Financial Advisors
Perhaps we needed a government shutdown. It just shows how weak we really are, and in order to improve oneself, you need to stop, shutdown, and regroup. Things haven’t been working. While the public may be outraged…maybe the government [needed] a reboot. Even computers crash. For sure, no government is perfect. This country needs a huge swift kick in the butt. The economy is on the verge of a meltdown, people don’t have jobs, and yet….people won’t reduce spending because we’re entitled. Yes, we are way too entitled… and that includes our government spending. I’d rather have the government shutdown for a few days, rather than have an economic meltdown and the whole country suffers … which in turn means, the whole world is in deep, deep trouble.
–Maya Rowencak, Maya’s Hope
I am so frustrated with the Congress of the United States I could scream! If the shutdown continues, and holiday sales are slowed down (again) as they were last year, then it will have a significant effect on my business. Last year when Congress was fooling around with the “fiscal cliff,” my holiday sales were off by 40% from the previous year. Even Wal-Mart and Amazon were affected by Congress’ shenanigans. It is appalling that certain members of the Republican party are holding the country hostage to suit their agenda. Are they serving their constituencies? Are they serving the people of the United States by being so self-serving? I doubt it.
–Judith Moore, Charleston Cookie Company
They are holding the American people hostage for political gain and it’s not OK and in fact it’s stupid. My business is not directly affected, however I know several people who are. In fact they are on “vacations” due to this.
–Sharon Rowe, ECOBAGS.com
I am a micro-business owner/feltmaker from Winnipeg, Manitoba. The shutdown has a negative influence in that customers here are insecure about the outcome. Many fear a possible drastic change to their financial situation (2008 still looms in memory) and thus spend more cautiously. Media hyper coverage sure isn’t helping, nor is the upcoming budget issue. Interesting for both 2008 and 2013: the fear-mongering games of oligarchy/money/power are taking place just when tiny businesses like my own are gearing up for the busiest and potentially most rewarding season… I just recovered a massive loss from 2008 – here we go again? Personally, I’m sooo tired of the big boys’ games!
–Helga Schulte-Schroeer, FIBREARTISTRY
The government shut down is terrible and I attribute this to two immovable objects: The Democrats. The Republicans. Isn’t government about “negotiating”? And…isn’t the Presidency about “leading”? All are failing…badly.
It seems to me that the two parties in the US have forgotten why they are there and are so tied up stopping each other succeed that it is the public who suffer. As someone from Canada, where health is covered by the government, I congratulate Obama on his courage to address this issue. With no affordable healthcare, getting sick in the U.S. is literally a death sentence for people without the means to pay. It is time the Republicans got over themselves and started to do something positive for the people, instead of setting up minefields at every turn.
–Anne Day, Company of Women
My business helps businesses and entrepreneurs get started by incorporating and forming LLCs. In general, the government shut down has led many to take ownership of their own destiny and start their own businesses. However, business owners are nervous and scared about the government and the economy. Entrepreneurs who feel uncertain are often more hesitant to take the leap. The government shut down will ultimately stifle not only federally funded ventures, but also limit the establishment and expansion of entrepreneurial ventures. It is concerning across the board.
–Deborah Sweeney, MyCorporation
As an old-fashioned disciplinary mother I think they should ALL be spanked and sent home with no pay and none allowed to return. The governing board from most any successful business could probably perform better and keep things running in an efficient and timely manner than what we currently have. The international community is able to see us more clearly in many instances and their comments and jokes reflect a dwindling respect which should be telling to our elected officials.
–Fran Needham, Raskob Kambourian Financial Advisors