Here’s What Hillary Clinton Has to Say About Small Business

Meredith Wood

Meredith Wood

Editor-in-Chief at Fundera
Meredith Wood is the editor-in-chief at Fundera. She has specialized in financial advice for small business owners for almost a decade, and is sought out frequently for her expertise in small business lending. Meredith’s advice has appeared in the SBA, SCORE, Yahoo!, Amex OPEN Forum, Fox Business, American Banker, Small Business Trends, and more.
Meredith Wood

Debate night “Round 1” and “Round 2” has come and gone, and the 2016 election is fast approaching. Everyone from college students to retirees are glued to their seats. Small business owners should be watching, too.

Here’s a fact: small businesses account for 99.7% of U.S. employer firms and 64% of new jobs in the private sector. Clearly, whatever the candidates have to say about small business is going to be very important.

Today, let’s take a look at what Hillary Clinton thinks about small business in America.

“There are too many barriers”

Clinton repeatedly cites small business as the engine that drives the American economy.

Sadly, small businesses bore the brunt of the Great Recession, and still have not bounced back. Even with the continued recovery and a positive economic outlook overall, small business formation is below what it was in 2007 because:

  • There’s too much red tape to starting a business
  • It’s too hard to get financing and find investors
  • Taxes are too high and too complicated
  • It’s too hard to provide workers with healthcare and other benefits
  • It’s too difficult to access new markets
  • There’s not enough support when small businesses get stiffed

Clinton also believes that the federal government needs to start being more supportive and responsive to small business needs. She thinks that more incubators and training programs are needed to get the engine of the American economy firing on all pistons.

“Level the playing field”

Back when she was in Cedar Falls in 2015, Clinton said, “I want to be a small business president.” During the 2016 campaign, she’s stuck to her guns.

When speaking to members of the South Carolina Democratic Women’s Council, she said, “It’s time to make the words ‘middle class’ mean something again.”

Clinton wants to level the playing field so all people can start and build a company, including women and minority businesspeople who face additional barriers. She believes the deck is still stacked to favor those on top, and that the average American is not getting a fair chance at accomplishing his or her dreams.

Her appreciation for small businesses stems from her childhood:

“When my dad ran his small printing business—he printed drapery fabrics in Chicago—it put food on the table; it gave us a good, solid, middle-class home and lifestyle. And I don’t think it’s old fashioned to say that’s what I want for every family that wants to work for that here in our country today.”

This is precisely why she’s developed a detailed strategy to make it easier for entrepreneurs and small business owners to achieve their dreams.

“It should be like setting up a lemonade stand”

Hillary Clinton’s solution is thorough and straightforward—and addresses each of the problem points she’s discussed so far on the campaign trail. Here’s what she promises:

Cut the red tape

Clinton wants to streamline the process for starting a business. It should be “as easy as setting up a lemonade stand in the front yard.”

While that probably won’t happen, there’s no reason for it to take longer for someone to start a business in America than in Denmark, Canada, or South Korea. Clinton will incentivize states and local governments to simplify the process, remove unnecessary licensing, and lower unreasonable fees.

For instance, roughly 25% of workers require occupational licensing. While this is necessary, the burden and cost of getting a license can deter small businesses from starting or expanding (especially if other states require a unique license). Standardizing and streamlining the licensing process across states will solve this issue.

Make financing easier

Under Clinton, small business owners—including women and minorities—will enjoy easier access to financing. As many as 82% of startups fail due to bad cash-flow management. But this can be fixed with easier access to money.

Lifting the lending restrictions placed on credit unions and community banks is a no-brainer solution. Additionally, to ease the process for recent graduates, Clinton will allow postponement of student-loan payments without interest accumulation.

Simplify and lower taxes

Firstly, Clinton wants a standard deduction for small businesses that’s similar to the one individuals can claim. This will greatly reduce the man hours and resources small businesses spend filing taxes.

Secondly, she wants to quadruple the tax deduction startups can take for expenses (it’s currently capped at $5,000; Clinton would increase it to $20,000). All of this will greatly reduce the cost of starting and running a small business.

Make it easier to provide health care

For companies with fewer than 50 employees, Clinton wants to offer a health care tax credit (if they provide coverage to workers). This will be accomplished through the Affordable Care Act. Additionally, to ensure there are no roadblocks in getting this credit, Clinton plans to simplify eligibility requirement and complex phase-out rules.

Enable expansion into new markets

Clinton will encourage innovations that open new markets—like Etsy and Amazon—in America and around the globe. To help make this happen, she will provide programs for up to 50,000 entrepreneurs in underserved communities throughout America. Additionally, she will defend and support the Export-Import Bank, a crucial supporter of small businesses that operate in global trade.

The presidential candidate also plans to introduce a five-year, $275 billion infrastructure plan to improve airports, ports, bridges, and roads. This will help set up American small businesses for success in the 21st century.

Provide protection

Not getting paid or getting cheated is a big problem for small businesses. In fact, 64% of small businesses have to deal with payment delays.

To combat this issue, the presidential candidate plans to stop the practice of large companies using pricy legal maneuvers to refuse making payment. She will give small businesses more recourse to get what’s owed them.

“What’s good for women is good for America.”

Hillary Clinton could become the first woman president of the United States. She has plenty of ideas about tackling women’s issues. This could be good not just for women entrepreneurs, but the economy as a whole.

To close the pay gap, the presidential candidate wants to promote pay transparency through the Paycheck Fairness Act. This will guarantee women get paid the same as men for the same job. Currently, women earn 80 cents for every dollar earned by men.

To ensure parents don’t have to choose between work and family, Clinton plans to make childcare more affordable. She’ll also try to pass better paid leave laws through Congress. This will place less pressure on women across the country and enable them to pursue their business dreams.  

What industries does Hillary Clinton plan to ignite?

Clinton believes that by stimulating specific industries, the American economy can get rolling again.


Clinton’s five-year, $275 billion infrastructure plan should create opportunities in lots of industries, including construction, raw materials, and real estate. Whether you run a concrete business or engineering firm, you could directly benefit from such a plan. It will also help small businesses involved in any sort of trading.


Here’s Clinton’s goal for energy: tackle climate change and make America the world’s clean energy superpower. That’s pretty ambitious. She claims this will create millions of good jobs. If she can implement a plan to generate enough green energy to power every U.S. home, undoubtedly small businesses associated with the energy field will benefit.


Like her Republican opponent, Hillary Clinton also places importance on manufacturing in America. Specifically, she will make a $10 billion investment to start a “Make it in America” partnership. This will incentivize businesses to keep jobs here—and even bring jobs back. Small businesses in the manufacturing sector just may have more opportunities with such a plan.


Hillary Clinton’s ideas for education could impact small business as well. Our current $1.2 trillion of college debt is crushing college grads. Clinton wants to make college debt-free. It’s no surprise that debt loads are stopping many young entrepreneurs from starting a company, so this would put graduates in a better position after school to launch businesses.


The Democratic candidate plans to invest in digital infrastructure. For instance, she hopes to get every single American household connected to high-speed, affordable broadband by 2020. She wants to deploy 5G wireless to enable the Internet of Things. Investing in STEM education and computer science will be one of her biggest priorities, too. All of this could lead to a more productive economy, which would be great for any business.

How will these projects be funded?

Of course, everything in American politics is easier said than done. The billion-dollar question is: where will these funds come from?

Clinton wants to make sure that the wealthy, corporations, and Wall Street will be required to pay their fare share in taxes by closing loopholes and ending inversions (where companies move overseas on paper to avoid taxes). For those companies that still leave, she’ll enact an exit tax.

Whether this results in extra revenue for the federal government remains to be seen. Some say it could lead to capital outflow—which could limit new investments in entrepreneurship.

But if it does result in added taxes for the government, Clinton’s ambitious projects could take off. And entrepreneurs working in all sorts of fields stand to gain.

What about wages?

The minimum wage has been a hot issue in recent years. The presidential candidate plans to up the minimum wage to a livable wage.

Some say Clinton wants a $12 per hour minimum. But she has said she supports efforts for $15. Yet there is much debate as to whether a higher minimum wage will actually help or hinder small businesses and the economy.

Research that shows a higher minimum wage would directly benefit about one-third of U.S. workers. It will lift people out of poverty and increase opportunities for social mobility. Also, the lower middle class will have a lot more money to spend. As a small business owner, that means more potential clientele, especially in sectors like retail and travel.

Those who are against a higher minimum say it will raise labor expenses and stifle small businesses. Unemployment would skyrocket and the overall economy would slow down. That would spell trouble for anyone as a small business owner.

Key Endorsements

Endorsements can tell you a lot about a candidate. Who thinks they’re right? Who gets inspired?

Here’s a (very) brief list of some of Hillary Clinton’s notable endorsements.

  • Mark Cuban
  • Meg Whitman
  • Bernie Sanders
  • President Barack Obama
  • 45 of the 100 largest national newspapers
  • Marc Andreessen
  • Sheryl Sandberg
  • Elon Musk
  • J. J. Abrams

Check them all out here.

It’s your vote

Remember: your vote is your decision. If you’re a small business owner, you need to understand what each candidate plans to do. You should also know how other proposed policies will affect your company.

In the end, who you choose is up to you. Just don’t go in blind—especially knowing how important your small business is to you.  

Make sure to check out our breakdowns of Donald Trump and Gary Johnson, too!

Editorial Note: Fundera exists to help you make better business decisions. That’s why we make sure our editorial integrity isn’t influenced by our own business. The opinions, analyses, reviews, or recommendations in this article are those of our editorial team alone. They haven’t been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of the companies mentioned above. Learn more about our editorial process and how we make money here.
Meredith Wood

Meredith Wood

Editor-in-Chief at Fundera
Meredith Wood is the editor-in-chief at Fundera. She has specialized in financial advice for small business owners for almost a decade, and is sought out frequently for her expertise in small business lending. Meredith’s advice has appeared in the SBA, SCORE, Yahoo!, Amex OPEN Forum, Fox Business, American Banker, Small Business Trends, and more.
Meredith Wood

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