Wednesday, Aug 23, 2017
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Economy

Small businesses optimistic about 2017

Owners wait to see what Trump does

NEW YORK — Donald Trump’s election as president has made many small business owners more upbeat about 2017.

SmallBiz-Small-Talk-2017-Outlook

President-elect Donald Trump and Andy Puzder, chief executive of CKE Restaurants and his choice for labor secretary, shake hands as Puzder leaves Trump National Golf Club in November.

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Dean Bingham says he’s cautiously optimistic because business picked up at his auto repair shop after the election — people who had put off fixing their cars have decided it’s time to get them serviced.

“Over the last month, customers have been coming in with optimism that they didn’t have the last few years,” says Mr. Bingham, owner of a Mr. Transmission/​Milex franchise in Greenville, S.C.

The shop has been so busy Mr. Bingham’s looking to hire a seventh employee to help out in the front while he works on cars.

While many business owners are more confident because their revenue looks to increase in 2017 because of the overall improving economy, they’re also optimistic because they expect Mr. Trump to deliver on promises to lower taxes and roll back regulations including parts of the health-care law. But owners may not be expecting overnight relief — many recognize it will take time to see what the administration’s plans are, and what it will accomplish.

Business owners were considerably more optimistic about 2017 in a survey taken shortly after the election. Forty-six percent of the 600 questioned in the Wells Fargo survey said the operating environment for their companies would improve next year; that compares to 30 percent two years ago, after the last congressional elections. Just over half the owners said actions that Mr. Trump and Congress will take next year will make their companies better off. Twenty-six percent said the government’s actions would have no effect, and 17 percent said their businesses would be worse off.

Nick Braun expects his pet insurance business to benefit because he thinks consumers will feel more comfortable about buying nonessentials like health coverage for their pets.

“I truly believe that 2017 will not only be a great year for our business, but the U.S. economy in general,” says Mr. Braun, whose company, PetInsuranceQuotes.com, is based in Columbus.

Mr. Braun said he believes promised changes to the health-care law will be one factor encouraging consumers to spend on things that aren’t their top priorities. He’s also hoping that changes to the law will make it easier for him to buy insurance for his six staffers, which he provides even though the law doesn’t require him to.

Mr. Braun says he has had to change carriers several times because many insurance companies haven not wanted to write policies for small businesses.

Among the laws and regulations that small business advocacy groups want to see eliminated or changed are the Department of Labor’s overtime rules that were scheduled to go into effect Dec. 1, but were put on hold by a federal court in Texas. Mr. Trump’s nominee for labor secretary, fast-food company CEO Andy Puzder, opposes the regulations.

Many owners may be cautious in the first half of 2017 while they wait to see what the government does, particularly with health care, says Walt Jones, owner of a management consulting business, SEQ Advisory Group, whose clients include small companies.

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