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There is one key element of Dailykos that I see missing from our pages and groups here.  I know there are many small business owners who participate in discussions but until now there has not been a way for all of us to collectively pool our thoughts and abilities together.  Large corporations have the Chamber of Commerce and other groups that spend large money in elections, but small businesses on the left have little to no recourse for change.

It is with this hope that this group can become a strength by numbers contention to those on the right.  There are far more small businesses than there are corporations, and because of this small business should be louder and more deafening in comparison.

I invite any and all small or even large business owners with a liberal philosophy to join and introduce them selves to this group (Small Business Administration of Kossackistan) and together perhaps we can discuss business models, what we are doing for our communities/workers, and establish some political goals to work together and achieve.

I will kick this off by introducing myself.

Online I go by the Pseudonym of PR.  In real life however I, along with my wife own a small jewelry business (mostly body jewelry, we are very similar to Hot Topic or Spencers, but with far more selection).  We have been in existance for over a decade.  We pride ourselves in bringing a product to market at a greatly discounted price compared to our competitors.  We buy in extreme bulk, and we pass that savings onto our customers.  It would be easy to charge what others charge and keep the profits, but our philosophy has always been to give our customers the quality of our competitors, at the lowest profitable prices.  Beleive it or not, on the very same goods, we beat Wal-Mart on price.  We just choose to make less of a profit.

It is for this reason, as much as we would love to, we run everything ourselves and have not hired extra help.  Each election cycle we do make it a point to donate a portion of our products to  the local Democratic Party, but we would like to do something more, beyond contribution.

I have never had a problem with large corporations donating money and influencing politics.  What I have had a problem with is a lack of competition on the other side, and as the free market would dictate, competition is good.  Help this group grow, and for the time being, please, introduce yourselves and tell us your story.

12:12 PM PT: If you are a small business owner (or even if you are not) please, feel free to write a diary on this group.  Any and all ideas for this group, or small businesses in general to counter the Chamber of Commerce and corporate monies are welcome!

7:57 PM PT: In order to keep in touch and work on these ideas, and to actually make something of this, please join the group "Small Business Association of Kossackistan".

7:58 PM PT: http://www.dailykos.com/...


Originally posted to PRRedlin on Thu Feb 07, 2013 at 10:40 AM PST.

Also republished by Small Business Administration of Kossackistan.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I suppose I technically own (5+ / 0-)

    a small business.  Although it's mostly a non-profit the arts organization I founded is also a gallery that required going through the tax forms and all the other things involved with starting a business.  More of a coop than anything.

    It seems like there must be a group of progressive small businesses already.

  •  In-Home Artisan Here, Just Passing the Computer (12+ / 0-)

    on the way from one work station to another.

    I do have a problem with big business donating and influencing, just as I have a problem with big business even being allowed to get as big as some of them are or hold the amount of market share some do. We've tried this the wrong way twice and the right way once; we need to go back to regulating big business the right way.

    That said, small and micro-biz definitely needs more of a voice.

    My market is very tiny, serves the entire political spectrum from extreme to extreme, and scattered worldwide, so I must use the net to market. For that reason I don't do politics under my meatspace identity and so I can't get into detail about what I do.

    But because the only important question for every artisan and craftsman I ever met about whether to switch from moonlighting to full time employment, was about how to secure health care, during the 08 campaign and during the transition after I suggested to the Obama team to offer Medicare for Microbiz, for sole proprietors of any age.

    I argued that the Republicans would have trouble fighting that expansion of Medicare because it was for business, and for people who were taking the "personal responsibility" to become entrepreneurs. I figured it could open millions of jobs of all kinds of people in the bottom 2/3 or so who could create job openings at their employer as they left, for everything an individual could do from child care and handyman to craftsman, tailor and up to professional services.

    And I argued this would get the ball rolling for single payer because small businesses with employees would want the same deal, and then bigger businesses would, and basically we'd make the business world lobby for single payer.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Wed Feb 06, 2013 at 11:42:32 AM PST

  •  Thirty years self-employed (10+ / 0-)

    artist, designer, web developer, etc..... and I can't stick around because I have a scheduled call with a client in two minutes concerning a print design job with a tight deadline. But keep me in the loop, and I will check back in later.

    See my sig line for details.

    curious portal - to a world of paintings, lyric-poems, art writing, and graphic and web design

    by asterkitty on Wed Feb 06, 2013 at 11:59:05 AM PST

  •  I run a small business but prefer anonymity... (13+ / 0-)

    as just saying what it is could give my identity away as it is a very niche field.  Overall, I think something good could come of DKos providing a better forum for SB issues as I see alot, alot, alot, A LOT, of folks here that see all business as "the mean, pompous, white guy who don't give a shit about nobody but himself--like WTF?  That said I will be happy to contibute anyway that still allows me to remains anonymous.

    The more you learn the less you know.

    by quiet in NC on Wed Feb 06, 2013 at 11:59:41 AM PST

  •  I own a small brick and mortar retail business (10+ / 0-)

    with my husband. We are a nature store, part of a franchise. Being part of a franchise has its good points and bad points, but this one is well managed and consistently gets top marks in annual surveys from its franchisees. We love what we do and love sharing nature with our customers. The two of us run the store with help from three part-time employees, a cat, and two dogs.

    The health care/insurance issue is a big one for us. Right now we don't qualify for group rates because my husband and I are on the same plan and we are the only full-time employees, so we are paying through the nose for an individual plan. I love your idea, Gooserock, but ideally would love to see health insurance uncoupled from employment completely with single-payer, universal health care.

    A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they know they shall never sit. - Greek proverb

    by marleycat on Wed Feb 06, 2013 at 12:17:28 PM PST

  •  Sole proprietor here (8+ / 0-)

    very small business, slowly losing in this economy, working to exhaustion and rarely seeing my kids.  Like others here I try to offer my customers good value for their money--but I'm also afraid if I raised my rates they'd all go away!

    Just wrote a letter to our newly elected Republican governor telling him to please accept the Medicaid expansion, that absenteeism and employee turnover due to lack of health care are a direct drain on my and other small businesses.

    Right now I have one part-time person who has another part-time job that offers health insurance.

    I am licensed and get inspected annually, and yes, the inspectors require me to spend money on improvements, but it makes sense to me and I don't see where "regulations" are keeping me from succeeding.

    •  I understand that a great deal (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cotterperson, political mutt, Noddy

      it is hard when your business should be thriving but because of the country and its policies it is not.  That is part of why I want this group to grow.  I think that is another area where we can focus, the regulations area.  Wouldn't it be great to have a business group that promotes certain regulations and counters the argument that all business is against it?

      95% of all life forms that once existed on earth are now extinct. It is only a matter of time until the Republicans follow suit.

      by PRRedlin on Thu Feb 07, 2013 at 05:38:28 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not so much meaning to complain (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        carver

        as relating my livelihood to various progressive issues--trying to use my "small business" credential to encourage accepting the Medicare expansion, which we desperately need.

        It does seem sometimes that small business is like the deficit--part of politicians' posturing is to say "oh--small business!" all of the time, while pursuing their agenda with no regard to its effect on small business, and in particular the challenge of weathering the arbitrary changes they make.

        I understand our new governor is considering a tax on services, and getting rid of income tax.  I don't know if my services will be taxed, but basically that's an increase in rates on my customers, from which I get nothing!  Except a decrease in business.  Because the pressure isn't just from competitors, who will also be affected, it's also from people deciding "this service is just too expensive--I won't use it."

        Undoubtedly these tax changes will be touted as encouraging small business.

  •  I have a small business (6+ / 0-)

    that I can only work at part time because I have a full time job.

    I'm not sure how to describe it anymore as it's morphing.

    It started out just being to plan and put on a steampunk convention, but the youth part became rather important, so now I'm not terribly sure if the Junior Sprockets is driving OctopodiCon, or the reverse.

    I have a team of unpaid employees working with me on this - I'd like to ratchet it up so I can pay at least some of them (the contracts negotiator, the attorney, the bookkeeper...).

    All knowledge is worth having. Check out OctopodiCon to support steampunk learning and fun. Also, on DKos, check out the Itzl Alert Network.

    by Noddy on Wed Feb 06, 2013 at 12:44:29 PM PST

    •  Lemme Guess: If You Went Full Time, Would It Be (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cotterperson

      health care costs that'd do you in? It is for many of us in the artsy world.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Wed Feb 06, 2013 at 07:42:12 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Actually, no (0+ / 0-)

        I'm not concerned about healthcare costs.  If I made enough money to pay employees, I'd make enough money to fully fund having employees.

        At the moment, it's not capable of doing anything but supporting the existence of the event, and we're barely breaking even on costs. We're probably not going to hit a profit point for another 3 - 5 years unless Junior Sprockets segment really takes off.  That would bring the profit time closer by a year or two.

        All knowledge is worth having. Check out OctopodiCon to support steampunk learning and fun. Also, on DKos, check out the Itzl Alert Network.

        by Noddy on Thu Feb 07, 2013 at 06:51:45 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  that's how it goes with most conventions (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          cassandracarolina

          you do the first few to get the name recognition, then beyond that you hit a point of equivalency and it's all profit from there.

          95% of all life forms that once existed on earth are now extinct. It is only a matter of time until the Republicans follow suit.

          by PRRedlin on Thu Feb 07, 2013 at 07:11:58 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Sounds awesome (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cotterperson, Noddy, cactusgal

      really sounds like you are doing something you are very interested in, and I love that steampunk is coming back.

      95% of all life forms that once existed on earth are now extinct. It is only a matter of time until the Republicans follow suit.

      by PRRedlin on Thu Feb 07, 2013 at 05:39:32 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Sole proprietor business owner, only because I was (11+ / 0-)

    able to maintain health insurance - and the "luxury" of launching a business - as a result of my husband's full-time employment. Without that income stream and safety net, many would-be job creators will never have the means to launch their businesses.

    PRRedlin, I am delighted to see you take the initiative to pull together micro- and small business Kossacks to address the challenges that we face. Health care is at the top of that list, and controls many decisions, whether in the corporate world or out on our own. Uncoupling health care from employment and moving towards a single-payer model would be a game-changer for Americans.

    Like others upthread, I keep my business and "real life" identity cordoned off from my on-line writing, but will follow your group and comment if I think I can add value.

    Those who do not understand history are condemned to repeat it... in summer school.

    by cassandracarolina on Wed Feb 06, 2013 at 12:52:13 PM PST

    •  Thank you (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cotterperson, krwheaton

      it does appear so far that Healthcare is the leading cause of small businesses not expanding or even taking off the ground.  This will most definately be one of our core principles.

      I have invited you to the group, hope we can get to work soon!

      95% of all life forms that once existed on earth are now extinct. It is only a matter of time until the Republicans follow suit.

      by PRRedlin on Thu Feb 07, 2013 at 05:41:35 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I think providing some information about (4+ / 0-)

    starting and running a small business from the experience of people here would be a good start.  Having a support network is key for small businesses.

    •  Agree! I got some great advice (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      AoT, RiveroftheWest, cotterperson, Noddy

      from other folks who started similar businesses. I also figured out some things on my own that proved useful, such as finding affordable professional liability coverage. I've also entered into informal networking arrangements with other similar firms so that collectively we can support one another's clients in technical areas beyond our own expertise. There's great power in connecting and working towards mutual goals.

      Those who do not understand history are condemned to repeat it... in summer school.

      by cassandracarolina on Wed Feb 06, 2013 at 02:27:32 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Aside from political lobbying (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cotterperson, Renee

      i think this would be an amazing feature of this group.  So many people want to start a business, and have means to do so, but for lack of knowledge of tax codes, forms, suppliers, etc they do not.  I plan to make this one of the core goals of this group as well.

      95% of all life forms that once existed on earth are now extinct. It is only a matter of time until the Republicans follow suit.

      by PRRedlin on Thu Feb 07, 2013 at 05:42:44 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Many good ideas here -- thanks! (9+ / 0-)

    I started an organic farm last year on land that once belonged to my parents.  Younger members of the family, along with some of their friends, do the physical work and I pay the bills.

    We have high hopes that someday it will make money, or at least support itself.  In the meantime, the beautiful land is producing good food for the family and to sell at the local Farmers' Markets.  Making our farm productive helps keep it (and neighboring land) less likely to be paved over in the name of "progress."

    •  Welcome! (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cotterperson, RiveroftheWest, Renee

      one of the goals I have of this group is to network with other small or large businesses to establish relationships that benefit each party.  For example, in organic farming you'd be looking for natural fertilizer, etc.  Perhaps there is someone on this board who produces this fertilizer and could supply you at a cheaper rate.  This is the type of thing that large corporations have the advantage of that small business do not.   We will change that.

      95% of all life forms that once existed on earth are now extinct. It is only a matter of time until the Republicans follow suit.

      by PRRedlin on Thu Feb 07, 2013 at 05:44:38 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thank you! (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Renee

        We are hoping to find many neighbors who have the same goals -- folks we can work with, who can help us as we help them.  In the meantime, one neighbor has already offered horse manure, and we'll soon have some chickens and bunnies of our own to augment production.

        Our bigger goal, along with renovating the orchard and increasing the garden space, is to install fish tanks for a hydroponics/aquaponics system which will produce fish (probably tilapia) at the same time it produces vegetables, filtering the water in a closed system back to the original fish tanks.  Powered, of course, by solar panels!

        It's a big job, with many possibilities.  Thank you for this diary encouraging small businesses; I appreciate it.

    •  "The Dirty Life" (2+ / 0-)

      Check it out if you haven't read it.  One of my favorite books of all time!

  •  Small Business Caucus, also (5+ / 0-)

    You should strive to have a small business caucus with your State Party also.  We've started a small business council for this years' legislative session to help promote small businesses in Texas as well as putting some legislation together to promote different aspects that could help small businesses.  All of us are in different fields/industries/types of businesses which helps give us a broader view on the needs of small businesses vs one specific thing for a certain business.  Chris Bell, who ran for Governor is heading it up.  However, our Small Business Caucus at the State Party has all but disappeared.  At this point though, there are so many small business owners on the SDEC this term that I'm not sure we would have as much representation with the Caucus as there is now.

    •  Wonderful idea (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cotterperson

      and Local planning and organizing is something that will definately be a core principle of this group.  I love all this brainstorming!  Welcome!

      95% of all life forms that once existed on earth are now extinct. It is only a matter of time until the Republicans follow suit.

      by PRRedlin on Thu Feb 07, 2013 at 05:45:25 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  ours is a small antique store (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RiveroftheWest, cotterperson, Noddy

    Dad owns the property, Lovely Husband owns the business- we pay the bills and taxes. Cousin lives in the back of the store, and she and I are the staff.

    Having worked with SBA and it's representatives in a previous life, I don't know what a SB group might provide that would be advantageous, but I'd be willing to participate and see what turns up.

    Anyone who scoffs at happiness needs to take their soul back to the factory and demand a better one. -driftglass

    by postmodernista on Wed Feb 06, 2013 at 04:49:50 PM PST

    •  Well (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cotterperson, Noddy, postmodernista

      in particular the networking for many existing businesses lacks in comparison to the networking large corporations have.  You deal with antiques and that is great, but is there anything you can think of that might improve this business?  Perhaps a flashy new website to sell the products etc?  Maybe there is a DK member who does a great job spiffing up websites but is looking for a hutch for their kitchen.  

      Sure that sounds a little ketchy, but as small businesses, many times we are "in it on our own".  I would like to change that.

      95% of all life forms that once existed on earth are now extinct. It is only a matter of time until the Republicans follow suit.

      by PRRedlin on Thu Feb 07, 2013 at 05:47:48 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I have had my own business (7+ / 0-)

    for 25 years - in data work.  I started in my living room with an outrageously priced PC and self-taught programming skills, and after years of hard work, and expanding into mailing, I ended up in a huge building with 50 employees.

    Which I actually hated.  There were employees walking around whose names I didn't know.  I had to have an employee manual instead of just talking.  

    I always provided benefits - health coverage, paid vacation,  maternity leave, even though most of my workers were blue collar.  Same deal for me and the high-school drop out we hired the previous week.  I was raised in England, so I have standards.  We also had a great all-expenses paid party on July 4th and Christmas.  

    The the pre-recession boom came, and I started making really stupid amounts of money.  I'm not complaining about the money, but I had to put in huge hours and there was a huge amount of stress.  I really wished I was back to a 10-man operation.

    Then the bust came, and I had to accept laying people off,  and I am now down to two people - myself and my business partner.  And we're not making much.

    But at least I had enough money saved in order to start off my dream business - a sheep dairy.  Don't scoff before you look at the prices of sheep's milk cheeses.

    But it's not actually a business yet - more of an extremely expensive hobby.  But all the set up and investment has been done, and now we just need to grow our flock.

    And I have gained other things than cash in this project though.  I have learned to do so many new things and really stretch my boundaries.  After helping a sheep give birth to a slimy lamb in the mud in a freezing drizzle, or getting peed on during milking, or having to scrape up poo - well, it's a whole different experience than sitting behind a desk.  Humility was a huge lesson.  And I can probably fix anything with duct-tape now.

    My concern is at age 50, I don't have the same drive, and I have physical ailments, like arthritis, that I didn't have the first time I started a business.

    But I think us small-business owners - we don't do it so much for the money - because most of the time there is none.  But there is a huge amount of satisfaction.

    •  Welcome (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Renee

      Age 50 is nothing to scoff at.  If you've already invest time and effort into it, put a little more in, get it successful, and then when you are elligable for ss sell that sucker.

      In all honesty though, you've lived the american dream and nightmare, and you've gone through what we all fear, so kudos for that and still standing.

      I hope you participate in this group, as your lifestory sounds a plethora of knowledge and will be very helpful!

      95% of all life forms that once existed on earth are now extinct. It is only a matter of time until the Republicans follow suit.

      by PRRedlin on Thu Feb 07, 2013 at 05:56:02 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Sheep's Milk cheeses..... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cactusgal, Renee

      yum!  And sheep's milk yogurt, and sheep's milk yogurt cheese....

      I have some friends who run a goat dairy, and it took a while before they were profitable, but now they are having to expand.  Local foods is where it's at.  Get connected in with the locavores and they'll really help boost the business.

      All knowledge is worth having. Check out OctopodiCon to support steampunk learning and fun. Also, on DKos, check out the Itzl Alert Network.

      by Noddy on Thu Feb 07, 2013 at 06:59:02 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  i just liquidate on amazon (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cotterperson, Noddy, cactusgal

    Overrun from local businesses or stores that close.  CTR Projects

    Gandhi's Seven Sins: Wealth without work; Pleasure without conscience; Knowledge without character; Commerce without morality; Science without humanity; Worship without sacrifice; Politics without principle

    by Chris Reeves on Wed Feb 06, 2013 at 07:29:05 PM PST

  •  My last day at my current job... (7+ / 0-)

    ...is Feb. 23, a bit more than 2 weeks. After that, I'm almost ready to launch my mobile ice cream vending business using a "made in USA" Worksman Ice Cream Tricycle (augmented with an electric motor to help me up hills - Florida's not as flat as one might think).

    I'm set up as a single-member LLC.

    I vote we run Rick Scott out of Florida on a high-speed rail.

    by ObamOcala on Wed Feb 06, 2013 at 07:33:20 PM PST

    •  Oh trust me (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Noddy

      lived there quite a bit myself.  That is awesome though.  Can't think of a better  business for florida besides an icecream business!

      Welcome to the group!

      95% of all life forms that once existed on earth are now extinct. It is only a matter of time until the Republicans follow suit.

      by PRRedlin on Thu Feb 07, 2013 at 05:57:41 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The Koch brothers (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RiveroftheWest, a2nite

    are republicans so they don't post here.

    A conservative is a man with two perfectly good legs who, however, has never learned how to walk forward. Franklin D. Roosevelt

    by notrouble on Wed Feb 06, 2013 at 08:47:08 PM PST

    •  I'm not opposed to republicans joining this group (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Noddy, notrouble

      if they are constructive.

      95% of all life forms that once existed on earth are now extinct. It is only a matter of time until the Republicans follow suit.

      by PRRedlin on Thu Feb 07, 2013 at 05:58:16 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  It was a tongue-in-cheek comment (0+ / 0-)

        about how "small businesses" are classified. Often all privately held companies are considered small businesses. The Koch brothers have a huge business empire and may have spent more in this last election that any other single group. They are not publicly traded, and so a small business by some counts.

        You might want to define the small businesses you want to work with as your efforts move forward.

        A conservative is a man with two perfectly good legs who, however, has never learned how to walk forward. Franklin D. Roosevelt

        by notrouble on Thu Feb 07, 2013 at 06:35:56 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I'm in thanks (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AoT, Gooserock, RiveroftheWest, Noddy, Renee

    we're starting up a new small business.

  •  We started a small biz, thanks for this nt (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Noddy, RiveroftheWest
  •  I would love to (4+ / 0-)

    quit my paying gig and start a small business of my own. But (a) I'm not good enough at my area of interest yet (although I am working on my skill set) and (b) I looked at what people in that line of work typically earn and it is less than half of what I am making now. So right now I am doing it as a hobby instead.

    But I will be following your group with interest! Thanks.

  •  Forgot to mention that I'm a small business owner! (3+ / 0-)

    We started this business out of our home in 1983, got our DBA in 1986 and incorporated in 1993.  We are now one of the largest firms in Texas that do what we do.  We've had lots of family come and go, and still have 5 family members in the business including myself.  We've had two of our guys retire, and have 12 other full time employees, and one part-timer besides the five family members.  I've also helped start two non-profits.  

    •  Awesome! (3+ / 0-)

      With enough effort from members, I would love to see this group eventually go non-profit/charitable with the proceeds going to helping struggling and start up businesses aside from the politics part.

      There are just so many people on this site and NO ONE does this for the left specifically.

      95% of all life forms that once existed on earth are now extinct. It is only a matter of time until the Republicans follow suit.

      by PRRedlin on Thu Feb 07, 2013 at 12:43:18 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

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