Do Small Business Owners Make Too Much?

Out Of Debt

Out Of Debt (Photo credit: Garrettc)

 

Chris is a small business owner with a question – Should I be able to take home $400,000?  If I have a $400k profit reported as income, is that unfair?

A short history of Chris’ business over the last 4 years

  • 2008 – Lost 3 of my top 5 largest customers.  Reported major losses in earnings
  • 2009 – I had to do layoffs for the first time ever as the losses continued to pile up.  I took no paycheck, no income.
  • 2010 – We pretty much finished at break even.  Even so, I took no paycheck and had to dip into 401K to cover expenses because we exhausted our line of credit and banks wouldn’t lend.  The bank’s position was that despite over 10 years of operations, we had depleted all our assets, meaning our cash, and had shown losses for 2 years.  Even though orders were coming in, we weren’t a “safe bet” in their minds
  • 2011 – We are making money again, and will make a nice profit, but are in such a hole from a cash flow standpoint that we were starving for cash due to some of the large orders. I depleted the rest of my 401K to keep afloat and purchase materials.

If Chris’ company shows $400,000 in earning 2011 does that make Chris one of those greedy owners who should “share a little more”?

Given that Chris went 2 years without a paycheck, and depleted his retirement savings, I can’t imagine anyone would have an issue with him taking those earnings, right?

Ok then, what if in 2012 the opportunity arises to make $400,000 again?

Chris’ argument is that there needs to be enough “working capital”, especially with business coming back and growing, to cover operating expenses.  The explanation is that the company lays out money for the materials and the costs of wages to make the goods 2 or 3 months before payment is actually received for the products.  And, especially after the lessons of 2008-2010, companies should make sure they keep a solid “rainy day fund” to cover things like economic slowdowns, plus there is equipment that needs replaced or upgraded.

President Obama and his administration and followers feel that companies like Chris’ should have to “share a little more”.  How much more?  Well, some have gone so far as to say profits should be banned!  In that case, I suppose, owners like Chris should just get a paycheck like any other employee of the business, even though they will be expected to front the money for startups, put in the hours and oversee the business as it grows.   But the current administration doesn’t see any issue with that.

“From each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs.”

Click on “Leave a comment” and let us all know your thoughts.

Advertisements

Here’s Really the Biggest Problem in the American Economy – What nobody wants to say Part #1

Redistribution of Wealth

Redistribution of Wealth (Photo credit: nodigio)

Here’s The Biggest Problem In The American Economy

•Globalization
• Technology
• Stagnant wages
• Business Profits
• Tax laws

“These and other factors have contributed to the most radical redistribution of wealth that the United States has ever seen. Since the late 1970s, the country’s assets and income have moved steadily from “average” Americans to the richest Americans”

-Henry Blodget, Business Insider

Wow. That is a heck of a claim. Redistribution. Let’s take a look at what redistribution actually is. The term literally means distributing again – so in effect, taking something that has already been distributed, and distributing it differently a second time. Or more clearly stated, taking something from one group or individual and giving it to another group of individuals. I can’t fathom that anyone really wants to claim the wealthy have raided the accrued earnings and personal assets of the “average” Americans and given it to owners and senior management. It is one thing to say that the income gap between the wealthiest Americans and the average, median, or mean income of working Americans has increased since the 1970’s. That would be a claim that could possibly be substantiated or refuted through data. But that is not at all what he alleges. His claim is much more sinister – one group of individuals is intentional taking from another, without justification, and arbitrarily giving to another. A claim that is purely argumentative.

He then comes right out with it. In the next paragraph, carefully avoiding using terms like “redistribution”, he proposes spending our way to a more vibrant economy. If only the businesses of America would give up some of the wealth, everything would be fine. Unfortunately, these businesses are shortsighted by not just distributing this money to other people, like Henry Blodget no doubt, who would better know how to spend it. Spend, don’t cut costs, he opines. Ironically, much later in his post, he makes a recommendation (which I agree with, by the way) that American consumers need to save more and spend less! He never reconciles these two conflicting view points.

“The benefits of our free-market capitalist system … are accruing disproportionately to owners, managers and customers, at the expense of everyone else.”

Disproportionate according to what? Are we back to the “I just think you should share more” argument? And who will decide how much to share and who should get it? I suppose the government, unless Mr. Blodgett will be so bold as to offer up his services to fairly split that pie up. Notice also customers are also lumped into that mix of individuals that are taking advantage.

“It’s everyone else who is getting hosed”

So, the “average” American is not also a customer? Who then, are these “customers”, and how will we make sure they aren’t getting unfair benefits from the free market capitalist system? Will we perhaps charge them more, maybe in the form of a tax, because remember, we don’t want the owners to make too much profit. Then we could take the tax and give it to the consumers so they can buy more stuff, which is critical to the robust economy as Mr. Blodgett envisions. But then, if prices were higher, wouldn’t the “average” American need even more money to be able to afford to make purchases? And again, who will make this decision?
Do you agree with the notion that somehow companies and owners are unfairly taking income and assets away from the “average” American? Or is it an unfortunate, pandering, political claim that demonizes those that are successful and reinforces a victim mentality on the “average” American?
In the coming days I hope to cover:
• Globalization
• Technology
• Stagnant wages
• Business Profits
Let me know your thoughts.