With just over a month to go before the presidential election, The Associated Press spoke to three small business owners about who they are supporting for president and why. Here's what they had to say:
NAME, PARTY AFFILIATION: Charles "CJ" Guercio, Republican
VOTING FOR: Romney
WHY: "I do not like the direction that everything is going," Guercio says. "I just think there has to be a change. He's the lesser of two evils."
He likes that Romney has a business background. "He knows how businesses run," he says.
BUSINESS: BP Payroll in Birmingham, Ala. Businesses hire BP Payroll to manage their payrolls. Guercio started a human resources business 15 years ago with three partners. BP Payroll was formed three years ago from that company and currently has 10 employees.
IF YOU COULD SIT DOWN WITH THE WINNER OF THE ELECTION, WHAT WOULD YOU TELL HIM IS YOUR BIGGEST CONCERN: The health care law. Guercio thinks it needs to be repealed and the new president should come with a better plan. "Everything is so muddy and confusing, no one knows the answers to anything," he says.
He says the businesses he has as clients may go out of business trying to be in compliance with the health care law.
HOW WAS BUSINESS 4 YEARS AGO: Guercio says that he wasn't hurt by the recession. "Businesses want to outsource and cut their costs," he says. "They know that they can pay us a fraction of what it would cost for them to hire someone in the company and do payroll for them."
HOW IS BUSINESS NOW: Business has grown about 20 percent from four years ago, he says.
NAME, PARTY AFFILIATION: Ami Kassar, Democrat
VOTING FOR: Obama
WHY: He says that he doesn't think any of the candidates have a plan to help small businesses, he says his choice is more emotional.
"You want to know the real reason? It's Michelle," says Kassar. The first lady's speech at the Democratic National Convention won him over. He thinks the first lady has good values, integrity and is smart. "If that's the woman whispering in his ear at night, that's who I'm voting for," he says.
BUSINESS: MultiFunding, Broad Axe, Pa. The company is a loan broker. It connects small businesses with loan providers. Kassar started the company in January 2010.
IF YOU COULD SIT DOWN WITH THE WINNER OF THE ELECTION, WHAT WOULD YOU TELL HIM IS YOUR BIGGEST CONCERN: That it's hard for small businesses to get loans. "Startup loans are almost impossible to come by," Kassar says.
He couldn't get a loan to start MultiFunding and had to use $250,000 of his own savings.
At MultiFunding, he says about 35 percent of the small businesses that come to business can qualify for loans from community banks and from other sources with low interest rates. The rest can only qualify for loans from other companies that can be twice as expensive.
WHAT WERE YOU DOING 4 YEARS AGO AND WHY DID YOU GO INTO BUSINESS: Kassar was an executive a large bank before it went out of business. He was laid off in 2010 and started his business immediately.
HOW IS BUSINESS NOW: In the first year, his business secured $1 million in loans for small businesses. So far this year, MultiFunding has brokered $100 million in loans.
NAME, PARTY AFFILIATION: Mike Maiman, Democrat
VOTING FOR: Obama
WHY: "His goals are clear," says Maiman. "He gives specifics of what he wants to do, as opposed to Romney, who doesn't."
BUSINESS: MKL, Tarzana, Calif. The company helps insurance agency owners sell their businesses. It finds buyers and posts a list of the firms up for sale at Agency-Broker.com. Maiman started the company six years ago.
IF YOU COULD SIT DOWN WITH THE WINNER OF THE ELECTION, WHAT WOULD YOU TELL HIM IS YOUR BIGGEST CONCERN: Partisanship in Congress. "Congress needs to start working together or nothing gets passed," he says.
HOW WAS BUSINESS 4 YEARS AGO: It slowed. That's because four years ago, at the height of the financial crisis, it was hard for potential buyers to find loans to buy insurance businesses, Maiman said.
HOW IS BUSINESS NOW: Better, he says, because within the past year buyers are able to find funding.
Joseph Pisani can be reached at https://twitter.com/josephpisani