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Advice from a job creator: Bring on the optimism, Obama

This CEO of a small business says the most important thing Obama can do is break the cycle of fear with a message of optimism. Fear works on businesses like winter. They freeze hiring.

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The hottest topic of the 2012 election season is “jobs in large enough numbers to change our economic fortunes.” News commentators, politicians, and authors are all weighing in.

But these people don’t directly create jobs. As the chief executive of a small business, I do. Small business is where most jobs originate in America, and from my position as an entrepreneur and head of a software design company, I’d like to offer this view:

The biggest need now is a national vision and sense of optimism, articulated at the top by the president. Millions of other small-business executives share my view about optimism’s role. That’s because we are familiar with the “fear versus optimism” cycle that affects every business decision, especially hiring.
This cycle not only influences my actions, but perhaps more important, the spending by my customers. Major events like 9/11 and stock market crashes create near universal fear. Spending slows, revenues drop, hiring stops.

When fear rules, we don’t hire

The fear-driven years of 2008 and 2009 were two of the worst in memory. I watched as many customers simply delayed spending. Potential projects were put on hold as my clients waited for their executives to give the go-ahead to issue a purchase order. Some clients were persuaded by discounts; most were not.

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