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Leadership Lessons—The Price of Freedom

I think it is somewhat fitting that we are reading about Brexit this time of year. The British are exiting from the 28-country European Union 240 years after the United States declared its freedom from the British.

July 4th is much more than a day on the calendar. It was the day that 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence put their lives on the line. Consider this:

  • Five of the signers were captured as traitors and tortured before they died;
  • Two lost their sons who served in the Revolutionary Army and two more had their sons captured;
  • Nine died from wounds or hardships caused by the Revolutionary War; and
  • Twelve had their home ransacked and burned.

That is commitment.

We all know that there is a battle going on between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

At the same time, I wonder how many of us know that there are 435 state representatives and 100 Congressmen? Or that the Congressmen are elected for a six-year term, while a state representatives have a two-year term?

Even more importantly … as the owner of a small business … do you know who your state representative is? Do you meet with him or her? (The Small Business Administration classifies some businesses as ‘small businesses’ even when they have 1,500 employees. The definition varies by industry.)

Hang in there with me. I’m getting to an important point.

Of the 435 state representatives, 151 are lawyers. One hundred more worked in education in one form or another. Fifteen are doctors. This means 61 percent of our representatives are from these three fields.

How many of these people really understand what it is like to run a small business? Do they know what it is like to hire a technician? What it is like to sit down at midnight on a Thursday night to figure out how you are going to make payroll on Friday?

I look at some of the stuff going on these days in Washington, D.C., that simply amazes me! I think it is nice for everyone to make $15 per hour. But I also think it is nice to pay $1.00 for a hamburger versus $4.00. Can you afford to pay $15 per hour to everyone on your staff? Let’s say you want to hire a high school kid to clean up around your shop, load trucks and learn the business. Can you really afford to pay this person $15 per hour?

Are you aware of the U.S. Department of Labor Overtime Rule that goes into effect on December 1st? If not, you had better get ready for this one because it will undoubtedly affect you. Click here for more information.

Here is my point. Fifty-six people risked their lives for us to sign the Declaration of Independence so we can be free. We owe it to their memories, we owe it to ourselves, to make sure we are involved with our Congressmen and Senators. We need to let them know exactly what it is like to run a small business. What it is like to look for a technician. What it is like trying to meet payroll.

I’m not sure who will win the White House in November. I have a feeling it will be a Democratic and Republican Convention next month like we’ve never seen before. We have a vote and we must make sure we cast that vote. Then, we have to make a commitment to help those who represent us understand the challenges that we face. If they ignore us or don’t listen to us, we have an option—to campaign and vote for someone who does.

America is free. Owning a small business has never been more difficult—but it is still the American dream!