How the Fiscal Cliff Will Force Big Biz to Turn Against Small Biz

The changes brought on by the fiscal cliff will likely turn big business against small business, which will in turn force small business to turn against America's best interests.

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By now, of course, you’ve heard all about the “fiscal cliff.” But in addition to the across-the-board tax hikes that many pundits are talking about, there are implications for small and midsize businesses that don’t come up nearly as often. Namely, unless Congress comes together to bring stability back to the fragile economy, big businesses will likely be forced to turn against small businesses, which will in turn force small businesses to turn against America’s best interests.

If we go over the fiscal cliff — or otherwise perpetuate the economic uncertainties that accompany the cliff — some dire consequences are all but certainties for small businesses. Big businesses will need to hedge their bets to maintain their stock valuations, which means they will continue to hold onto the cash, as they’ve been doing in recent years. The fact that many big businesses count the Defense Department and other government agencies as some of their key clients certainly won’t help either. As a result, budgets will be cut and projects will be stopped and stalled — and this spending slowdown will be devastating to the thousands of small businesses that participate in this broader ecosystem.

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But even when big-business-vendor spending isn’t altogether stalled, small businesses will feel a subtler — but often just as devastating — problem. As they often do during difficult times, many large businesses will slow down payment periods to existing vendors, even to those that have already completed contractual obligations. Getting accounts receivable into a small business’s bank account is already slow process, with the typical timeline in the range of 60 to 90 days. But if we take a jump over the cliff, that period will likely be extended to between 90 and 120 days or more, which can amount to a death sentence for the countless small and medium-sized businesses that face perpetual cash-flow challenges as they struggle to pay employees, rent, health insurance and a myriad other budget-line items.

So how will they stay competitive — and in business? In an effort to keep their doors open, many business owners will need to choose among two evils: seeking third-party financing alternatives or dramatically lowering their expenses, which often means cutting employees. Financing alternatives will not be easily or quickly found in an unstable, postcliff environment, when banks will likely decrease the size and frequency of their loans and credit lines. In a cliff-dive scenario, lenders may even decide to minimize their existing risk by lowering existing loans or credit-line totals, similar to the tactics taken in the most recent recession. Failing to secure bank financing would lead small businesses to alternative financing options, like invoice factoring or peers, which will undoubtedly become more expensive — and in some cases cost prohibitive — because of supply and demand.

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In short, a failure to address the fiscal cliff will force businesses of all sizes to move back into survival mode, as they during the recent recession, and American jobs will once again be the casualties. With small businesses employing the most people in America, that’s a lot of potential jobs being downsized — and a lot of voters.

Lucky for us business owners, this is all preventable … right?

Gerber is the founder of the Young Entrepreneur Council. In partnership with Citi, YEC fuels #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program. He is also a serial entrepreneur, regular TV commentator and author of the book Never Get a ‘Real’ Job.

34 comments
aridelros
aridelros

Face it guys. The US is on its way down. Or maybe just sideways. It will still be among the top ten or even the top five economies of the world  There are massive shifts in ways of thinking. The US still thinks its the savior of the free world. Or at least the policeman with the biggest stick when other policemen use different deterrents to get the job done. The US is still fighting the fight, clinging to that thin string of hope that it will regain its preeminence. Well, sorry guys - the world is changing faster than your ability to respond. Good luck and Happy New Year !

Surfboat
Surfboat

Disclosure of Military contract servicing corporation's holdings by Senators and House of Rep. members needs to be disclosed and even prohibited by portfolio managers who handle Government employees and their immediate family.  We have a huge "FOX GUARDING THE HEN HOUSE"  conflict of interest  problem with the governance of our country.    Same goes for the medical service delivery and insurance industries.   It's time to address the 800 lb. gorillas that are hiding behind the scenes.    Our computers can make and edit movies but they can't take our blood pressure or take our temperature?  What's wrong with this picture?    Where do I sign up for the class action? 

kschmidg11
kschmidg11

How will "addressing the addressing fiscal cliff" help?  This is all theater, big business runs the economy and the government.

dank111
dank111

We have a big problem in this country when businesses at all levels cannot function without government support.

I think this is the bigger issue this article brings up, we need to find a way to wean business from government.

jd998bb
jd998bb

what a load of #$%^. As if its not already exactly that way...and hello...wake up...where've you been...business is on businesses side...nobody else's...and that especially includes big vs small. Like I'm sure many will say..."see Wal Mart"...bad for everybody...but somehow still touted as "good ole american"...as I said....what a load of $%^&

InnkeeperPK
InnkeeperPK

@TIME big business should be restricted by policy. Not in the best interests of people. Monopolies benefit no one

WilliamsTrudy
WilliamsTrudy

@bayonnebernie Thanks for being one of the best here! Happy New Year!

Itsthejobsstupi
Itsthejobsstupi

@bayonnebernie-I think this Time article is more media hyper-drama.

tetmorikawa
tetmorikawa

@TIME Let it go over the cliff. The Bush tax cut was unaffordable. See this as an opportunity to fix the tax system. #fiscalcliff

sophieswidgets
sophieswidgets

@TIME Wait... How is that a different scenario from today? Case in point; Super Wal-Mart vs. any small/local merchant. Do you shop downtown?

JaneAnneJ
JaneAnneJ

@TIME What a disgusting prediction!

lifesmandarin
lifesmandarin

@TIME Bring it on then. Before that, pay the insult damages.

marelco_uk
marelco_uk

@marelco_uk @TIMEBusiness I would say that force is a strong term to use. Big biz depends on little biz and we are the smallest unit.

JohnHusband
JohnHusband

Moody's and other credit rating agencies have, in their wisdom, decided to use their influence to shake up the politico's who, otherwise, would have continued to undermine the stability of the banking system which is the lynch-pin of the markets and is the basis of the continued prosperity of the free world. We have the computing capacity, now, to integrate the free world in a way that could never have been dreamed of in the 20th century. That's all that people want freedom, health and prosperity. Happy New Year!

jevansdfw
jevansdfw

Terrible article! Where are the facts or at least examples. Reads like a chapter out of a intro economics course.

CliffordSpencer
CliffordSpencer

This can be easily solved.

  A  two-thirds vote, in the Senate, along with the president's signature, ratifies a treaty!

  Ever read about President Thomas Jefferson purchasing Louisiana with borrowed money?

  Was the House asked for a by your leave?

  Will the Senate kneel to Boehner?

primerom
primerom

@azzubairm Urgent! Prior to the fiscal cliff. Read here your honor! Translate into your language and you are lucky http://t.co/AgfkWWU3

KentR
KentR

Big business  does not offer  the personal service you get from mom and pop  shops that is the main draw we have  and contenue to have  over the big box stores  that  only care about bottom line  not the quality of the products they sell but the quantity of cash they can get for the least they can spend for the products  sell  the LOOK of a good  but not the quality of product.. As long as  the person has pride in his work  that he serves the public  then  the quality  and serviceability of that good is long    other wise   its as good for use as a used paper towel.. that cant be washed and used again.. That makes as much sense as buying a  car  and when the tank ran dry  buy a new car  to replace it   would be great cash flow for the car maker  but   the land fills would be deep in the empty's.. 

GeorgieSpears1
GeorgieSpears1

@readingchannel @TIMEBusiness Demand & Workers create growth 1st.GOP protect 2% w/false beliefs. GOP r fooling themself & blackmailing ALL

GeorgieSpears1
GeorgieSpears1

@readingchannel @TIMEBusiness McConnell & Boehner need 2 LEAD their party Norquist NOTAXPledge-GOP Teabaggers for Compromise!

JohnHusband
JohnHusband

Unlike small fry like Greece, Italy and Portugal, when the world's largest economy runs into the same kind of problems, basically living beyond its means for too long, there are no loving peers to turn to for a bailout. The USA is going to watch other dollar currencies overtake it in value as is already beginning to happen, and it will see itself become like Argentina, trying to live on hype, but having to face that this is economic war and it can't be solved by the military. Only Americans hold the key to their own survival which is their systematism and hard work. Of course the rich will try to flee the losses which they will suffer and the administration can only hope to contain the inevitable disaster to its status.

antonmarq
antonmarq

Gee, so what else is new????

Big businesses have always been against the mom and pop shops, all one has to do is look and see how many are left after a Wal-Mart, Target, McDonald  or any other massive service, manufacturer or distributor come to a town; so please, give me a break. The only thing big businesses should be concerned about is how they are going to pay premium employees to stay when they want to pass on the government increases onto the employees, and not the FAT CATS. 

JimStarowicz
JimStarowicz

Message to the boehner and mcconnel, along with your henchmen as well as the extremist jehadist teabags who were all extremely supportive of everything done under that bush and his tepub congresses, especially the rubber stamped no bid contracts all borrowed war costs for both wars of choice, after cheering on the abandoning the main missions for even sending the military into that region with the first drum beats pointed at Iraq, and with nothing of condemnation which has led this country right to where we are today after your teabag reps obstructed everything since!!, you love using phrases like 'the american people want', 'the american people demand', 'the american people.............',  never saying what a tiny percentage they were.Well The Real American People Spoke Loud And Clear In The Election, you lost seats in the Senate as well as the House and Obama was reelected by a big margin both by vote and electoral college, as to the economy and the Senate passage months back of the bill along with the proposals given by the executive branch long before and leading up to that election and have even given ground since while the lameduck house, especially, likes them long weekends and vacations from the jobs we pay them to perform, time to Do What The American People Really Told You What They Want, PERIOD!!!!!

JimStarowicz
JimStarowicz

Could turn 'Big Biz' against 'Small Biz'?? When did ya stop paying attention to what that new capitalism we've been in for over thirty years has been doin, i.e. think vulture capitalists, the reagan trickle down capitalism!!!

al Qaeda Disbands; Says Job of Destroying U.S. Economy Now in Congress’, tepubs, Hands.

Da bush, while in flight suit, again, seen in backyard playing pilot and bombing them VC, says another ' Mission Accomplished'!

aridelros
aridelros

America has a bigger problem - shedding its arrogance. You have graduates with massive student debts working in jobs where they are underemployed. And not just college graduates but newly minted lawyers and MBAs as well. You see this across the country. By far, Americans have had an unbelievable sense of entitlement. The fiscal cliff is the least of your problems

DavidNilssen
DavidNilssen

@askgerber @TIME I agree, although, it might be best 4 the country 2 reduce spending & raise revenues. #conflict #fiscalcliff #business

NonMotivated
NonMotivated

@TIME since when has big biz EVER not been against small biz? What world do YOU live in?

hurtz1
hurtz1

@TIME @TIMEBusiness Really? That's a new thing?

CliffordSpencer
CliffordSpencer

@JohnHusband ,

  Britain, Greece, Italy and Portugal were our allies in both WW1 and WW2.

  MOODY has downgraded the dollar, the pound and the euro.

  Which side is MOODY on?

JohnHusband
JohnHusband

@CliffordSpencer @JohnHusband I don't think Moody's are on anybody's side. They are an unbiased institution like many others that have been trying to warn the politicians that people are getting fed up with the unaccountability which politicians have. When a business is fiddling the books it is an auditors job to stop the rot.