The economic and political trends I see for 2011 will be formed around accountability. That may sound strange, but if you look at the recent elections, it makes perfect sense with 2012 just around the corner.
The mainstream media are already setting the stage for 2012. Who will run on the Republican ticket? Will President Barak Obama have a primary challenger? Will the economy impact the elections? Some of us would like the media to give us a break! All we have heard for the past few months are campaign ads and talking heads telling us what they think we should believe. In reality, the 2012 election cycle started the day after the 2010 midterm elections.
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So what about accountability? The majority of women voters moved from voting Democrat to voting Republican in 2010 for many reasons. However, the main reason was their view of a lack of accountability on the part of elected officials. They wanted to send a message, and they did.
Women entrepreneurs will still find it difficult to obtain access to capital in some parts of the country in 2011; however, when I speak to commercial bankers, they say they have money to lend. So why aren't small-business owners borrowing? I've discussed this with women entrepreneurs all over the country, and they are holding back for several reasons: 1) concern about what their tax bill will be in 2011, 2) concern for the costs of health insurance in 2011 and 3) concern about the world economy in general.
Women entrepreneurs have budgets and, in general, they stick to their budgets. They don't overspend, and they believe our government shouldn't, either. This year, women entrepreneurs voted for elected officials to be accountable to their constituents, and they will hold these newly elected officials to their promise of accountability. If they don't hold true to their word, women entrepreneurs will vote them out in 2012.
There is also concern among women entrepreneurs about the federal government printing bogus money and the extreme inflation that goes with that action. That means women business owners will have to spend more with dollars that are worth less. That, in turn, means hiring freezes because of the higher costs involved. Most women I speak with are afraid that the status of the United States and the dollar will fall to the point that the United States will no longer be the world's economic leader.
But back to politics. My prediction is that with a Republican-controlled House of Representatives and a barely Democrat-controlled United States Senate, not much is going to happen in 2011. Women business owners will have more meetings with their elected officials in 2011, letting them know they are watching their votes to see if our elected officials are business-friendly and whether they are keeping their promises.
In my opinion, the economy will be stagnant through 2011 and into 2012; however, if there is any growth in 2012, women entrepreneurs will lead the way. Women have connected the dots between economic growth and the values of the people they elect to serve in public office.
My wish list for 2011 is this:
- Republicans, Tea Party and Democrats working together to get our economy back on track. They can do this by holding more real meetings with grassroots small-business owners. I don't mean "photo op" meetings; I mean elected officials listening to small- business owners' concerns and solutions, and taking action on them.
- Make it easy for small small-business owners to see what their elected officials are voting on prior to the vote and then how they voted. This is all about accountability. These people work for us -- we pay their salaries. They are accountable to voters.
- "Take your Legislator to Work Day." With too few small-business owners serving in public office, elected officials and small-business owners spending a day together in the workplace could bring positive ideas and changes. This is also a great way to hold elected officials accountable.
- Talking heads on TV. Let's get more small-business owners out there talking about "real world" experiences.
The race for economic stability and political accountability has started. Are you involved and participating?