Small-business owners frequently cite regulations as one of the largest obstacles in operating their businesses. The regulatory obstacles faced by owners vary in specificity. Some owners are overwhelmed by the general volume of regulatory compliances, while others are burdened by one or two.
New research by the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) — Small Business Problems and Priories survey, found “unreasonable government regulations” is a critical issue for one-third of small-business owners.
And half (48%) of all small business owners say regulations are a “very serious” or “somewhat serious problem,” according to new research.
“Small business owners are drowning in regulations imposed by every level of government,” said NFIB President and CEO Juanita Duggan. “It’s a major problem affecting millions of businesses, and the federal government is the biggest contributor.”
Twenty-eight percent of small employers cited cost as their biggest regulatory problem. Other problems cited were: “understanding how to comply” (18%); “extra paperwork” (17%); and “time delays” caused by regulations (10%).
During the Obama Administration, a record number of regulations were created regardless of their detrimental impact on businesses or their value to the public, the report finds:
“Over the past eight years, record volumes of regulations have been imposed by the federal government as well as state and local authorities with little or no concern given to the net value of the regulations to society in comparison to the costs of compliance.”
In the first month of the Trump Administration, however, the volume of regulations issued has declined 72%, The Hill reports:
- The volume of regulations is the greatest problem for 55% of small employers, while 37% say they’re most troubled by a few, specific regulations.
- The single greatest regulatory problem for small employers is the cost of compliance (28%).
- While 41% of small employers have contacted a government agency for help with compliance in the past three years, only a fifth (19%) were satisfied with the assistance they received.
- One-third (33.4%) of small employers have had a government official enter their place of business to inspect or examine their records and/or licenses or otherwise check on their compliance with some government requirement in the last 12 months. For larger small businesses, 57 percent were visited in the last 12 months compared to 28% for the smallest ones.
- Twenty percent find that regulations affecting their business have no relevance to safety or consumer protection. Thirty-one percent find them of little or no value for customers or consumers and not worth the cost of compliance.
Unlike tax policy, which broadly impacts all firms in much the same way, regulations are administered by a myriad of government agencies, at different levels of government impacting sometimes very narrowly defined types of businesses. Thus, it is difficult to construct a comprehensive approach to easing the burden. However, the better policy makers understand the impact of regulations on small business owners, the more able they will be to lessen the burden.