NEW YORK — The Associated Press has been interviewing small business owners for weeks about the presidential election, their companies and the economy. Small business is an important part of most political campaigns. Small business owners create jobs and are often influencers in their local communities. With so much concern about job creation after the recession, both presidential campaigns paid extra attention to the small business community and made a case for why their candidate was the best choice for small companies.
Now that President Barack Obama has defeated challenger Mitt Romney to win a second term, we checked back in with some owners we had talked to previously and reached out to some new ones to find out how they feel about the election and what’s next for their businesses. Here’s what they had to say:
Reid Stone, Hero Farm
Reid Stone says he doesn’t think that either candidate would have made a difference to the success of his marketing and advertising company, Hero Farm, or the economy. But he says that his clients might think so.
With Obama holding onto his job, clients who supported Romney may be more uncertain about the future, Stone says. If that’s the case, they may respond by spending less.
“The first thing that gets cut is marketing and advertising,” says Stone.
If clients are nervous, history tells Stone that they’ll tend to stick with marketing plans they’re more comfortable with, such as billboards, rather than trying unconventional tactics like creating a website in hopes that it will become a social media sensation. “They may be less inclined to pay for guerilla marketing tactics,” Stone says.
He says Hero Farm, launched in 2008 during the recession, will have to work harder and be more aggressive about reaching out to companies with advertising ideas to gain new clients. “We’ve worked very hard in the last four years,” he says. “We’re still going to work just as hard.”
Jai Manselle, Manselle Media
Jai Manselle says he is certain that the economy will keep improving under President Barack Obama’s second term.
“I think we’ll keep on recovering at a moderate speed,” says Manselle, who started the Newport News, Va. -based brand development and public relations company in 2007.
Most of Manselle Media’s clients are in the sports, fashion and music industries. He thinks the recovery will help consumers become more confident, pushing them to buy more of his client’s products. Then his clients will have more money to spend on advertising and branding campaigns.
“Hopefully this will put more certainty in the market,” says Manselle.
Joe Fox, Dittotrade.com
Joe Fox voted for Mitt Romney, but he isn’t upset that his candidate didn’t win. He’s optimistic that after President Barack Obama settles into his second term, things will improve.
“I believe the economy is getting better,” says Fox, who launched Chicago-based DittoTrade.com, an online brokerage firm that lets customers follow others’ stock trades, in 2010. “I think that the last half of 2013 is going to be stronger.”
He’s also not worried about the election of Obama hurting his business and welcomes some volatility in financial markets.
“When the markets are volatile my business does better,” says Fox. When the stock market is unstable, people gravitate toward DittoTrade.com because it allows them to see what stocks major traders are buying, he says. Fox expects the stock market to remain volatile for the next several months.
Nick Balletta, TalkPoint
For the first time since starting his business 19 years ago, Nick Balletta is deciding how it will deal with ballooning health insurance costs. He may stop providing it.
“We’ve never thought about cutting it before,” says Balletta.
TalkPoint, a New York-based firm that runs online broadcasts of meetings for businesses, has 100 employees. It has been spending about $10,000 a year on health insurance for each worker.
But the company’s health insurance provider says it is increasing costs to about $12,000 next year. TalkPoint will provide health insurance in 2013, Balletta says, but isn’t sure beyond that.
He blames the rise on President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul. Balletta says it will be cheaper to not provide health insurance and pay the penalties that the new health care law requires for companies that don’t provide health insurance.
Besides the Obama health care plan, rising taxes also led Balletta to vote for Mitt Romney.
“The more money we send to Washington, the less money we have to hire people with,” says Balletta.
MICHAEL DEBENHAM, LIBERTY TAX SERVICE AND AMERICAN TITLE LOANS
After Obama’s win, Michael Debenham is still uncertain about the future.
He isn’t sure how Obama’s health care plan will work and doesn’t know how the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which was created under Obama and aims to protect people from hidden fees and other unfair practices by financial companies, will regulate his businesses.
“When you’re trying to make a business deal or buy something, it’s hard to know what is coming up in the next couple of years for sure,” says Debenham.
He runs three Liberty Tax Service franchises in Alaska. He also runs four American Title Loans stores in Utah. That company provides short-term loans using a car as collateral.
The tax company may get some business related to the implementation of the health care law, Debenham says, but he isn’t clear on how that will work. As for the loan business, the CFPB hasn’t publicized any plans to regulate the industry.
“We’re happy to follow the rules, but we don’t know what they are,” says Debenham.
Despite the uncertainty, he remains hopeful.
“We’ve survived through the slow times,” he says, “and we’re optimistic we’ll have good times coming up.”