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Opinion: ‘Somebody Else’ Didn’t Come

Starting a small business comes with some amount of risk. Even the most diligent and talented owner faces challenges that could ground a business before it takes off. I can speak to that from experience. I started my own business 20 ago. My law firm started with me and my partner and now we provide approximately 20 jobs in Virginia. I am no Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg, but I am proud of what I have been able to do.

As a small business owner, I experienced the ups and downs of getting a business off the ground. To push a business to success, you need to quit your steady paying job and "roll the dice" on a business that may or may not pay the bills. At first, there is no money coming in the door. The startup phase by definition means that all you have is money going in the business and none coming out. Is it risky? The whole venture involves risk—a lot of risk. Months of dinner consisting of just spaghetti or beans and rice. Constant choices of whether to pay your mortgage or your car payment. Lying in bed at night wondering if you have enough money to pay your employees. Not being able to take a vacation because there is no one else to run your business while you are gone… and the list goes on and on and on.

First-hand knowledge of this makes me very concerned about the president’s recent statements towards business owners. He stated that "if you’ve got a business—you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen." To be honest, that statement makes me very angry. During the startup years of my law firm, "somebody else" did not make my car payment when I was short. "Somebody else" did not say, "Dave, let me take you to a restaurant for a decent meal." "Somebody else" did not come help me out so I could go on vacation. My business succeeded through hard work and sacrifice from myself, my law partner, and my employees.

Business owners make the sacrifices that create new products, open up new markets and provide jobs for their communities. I don’t know why business success is all of a sudden a bad word. I don’t know why the president is not congratulating entrepreneurs for their hard work and success.

There is no doubt that the economy is struggling. While we are doing much better in Virginia, the rest of our country is struggling. The most recent jobs report found unemployment hovering at 8.2 percent with stagnant job growth. This is the 41st straight month with unemployment over 8 percent. American families cannot continue to sustain unemployment this high.

I never met an unemployed person that gave someone a job. The only people who provide jobs are successful business people. So why are some politicians trashing them? If we want to see unemployment and job growth figures turn for the better, we need to encourage business owners, pat them on the back, give them a high five—not attack them. Even better, pass laws that encourage success, not tax it. Eliminating the "Bush Tax Cuts" is a jobs killer. I guarantee you that I would have never started my law firm 20 years ago if my reward from Washington was higher taxes when I became successful!

I have never met our president, and I say "our president" because of the respect I have for him and the presidency. And to be honest, he seems as though he "practices what he preaches." You have to honor a person who tells people what he believes. But he and I just don’t see eye to eye on business. I want to encourage entrepreneurs and let them know that there are rewards for creating jobs. He seems to believe business leaders as lucky people who were given their success by "Somebody Else."