This is Michael Sinensky. I'm 31 years old and live in a two-bedroom apartment in Union Square, NYC with my wife and two amazing children who allow us to sleep an average of three hours a night.
I've always been an entrepreneur: I sold school supplies in elementary school, ran a candy mafia ring in high school with eight kids reporting to me, and threw parties in my friend's basement with a cover charge. It has taken all that experience plus another ten years of professional experience to settle into my business of running a group of restaurants and bars.
Presently, I have a company that employs approximately 300 employees, a team of individuals I'm so thankful for. We both know times are extremely tough, kind of like that movie about when you called Fred Claus when you had the board watching over you, discussing cuts, shutting you down, etc. Well, I feel the same way now with local, state and federal government so I hope you can feel my pain.
I've put together my wish-list and promise to leave milk and cookies out for you -- is it ok if I leave them with my doorman (Alex or Danny) as we and most New Yorkers don't have a chimney? In any event, let me know what you can do.
Santa, I need a bank loan now. I have great 2009 tax returns but 2008 was a building year. My banker says once my 2010 numbers are in, I'll "surely" get a loan or a line of credit. I'm worried because I'm going into January and February (the worst two months for bar/restaurant industry) and based on forecasting I will go deeper into the red because consumer spending is down and expenses are up. My tax return won't be completed until April meaning the bank (with all their red tape) won't lend me the money until June at earliest. By June, who knows where I'll be. My assets, credit score, income, business revenue and profits should justify any loan. Any chance I can borrow $250,000 as a line of credit at 5%? Please check with the Mrs. ASAP...
Besides a bank loan or line of credit for the bad times, which I know I can always pay back yearly by budgeting correctly, I need a lender who can give me money to grow. If I can't get a loan for the bad times, I'm going to have to dip further into my personal accounts (the wife won't like this one bit.) This process is so cyclical that I can set my clocks to it. Here's the problem, this personal money was set aside to open another business or expand in my current business but now I have to tie it up which would really hinder any growth. If I had money to grow, I'd immediately start a new business, hire approximately 50 new employees and pay another 300k in sales tax. Besides all the new taxes paid by my new employees and matching payroll taxes, the benefits would also trickle down to all the local businesses I buy goods and supplies from, yada yada yada.
Can you please get me politicians that actually understand small business owners? I wish I had guys like you and me in Congress who understood deadlines, how to make payrolls and where to cut in order to keep our operations going instead of continually writing checks that will one day bounce and that day seems to be looming. All I see are lawyers who write vague laws that I can't follow unless I hire another lawyer who can explain these vague laws for $10-25,000 per issue. In my business, we deal with fun agencies like the State Liquor Authority, Department of Health, Building Department, NY State Labor Department and the NY State Sales Tax Department, just to name a few. I have no clue what I'm doing right or wrong and I don't have the time or money to deal with lawyers who have to explain it to me. Can we get a five-page bullet point list of what's in these laws so it's all black and white? I can't sleep at night because of the in between gray. How can I grow if I don't know what tomorrow will bring!
Santa, I wish you could explain to our leaders that it's frustrating to pay almost 10 percent of my money as well as have to match my employees contribution for social security (which everyone says is a bigger Ponzi scheme than Bernie Madoff could have ever dreamt). Since social security probably won't exist for my retirement or for my kids at the rate we're going, how about you convince our leaders to let me keep the money and invest it wisely with a 401k plan of my own looked after by experts. Tell them to let me hold the fate of my family's well-being in my own hands. I'm grown up now -- I can handle the pressure of making retirement plans and not counting on the government to take care of this for me.
Santa, I wish we had people who understood how to give incentives and how to motivate people. Doesn't it seem backwards right now? How does the following make any sense? --Talks of higher taxes for those more successful --More fines to those who work harder in flourishing businesses --And extended unemployment to those who don't work at all. I might be just a small businessman but if you keep extending unemployment benefits, where is the incentive to actually try and find a job? So now the incentives are there for those who don't want to work and then we de-motivate those who are successful and want to grow. "Bueller, Bueller???" Can you explain to politicians that they need to motivate me during these tough times with incentives to grow my business instead of threatening me daily with higher taxes, forced health care for all my employees, more regulations and fines for their cash grab and blind-folded audits where I'm guilty until proven innocent? Santa, we need to let them know that we are not ATM machines and they need to start looking elsewhere for money. How about learning from small businesses and learning how to budget instead of simply raising the cost of doing business to solve problems. Learn like we do that you can't have it all when running a business or government. In my business, I need to choose who to advertise with, how much I can afford to pay a manager or event planner, how many people to staff for a shift. They need to follow suit and do the same.
Bottom Line Santa, we're both in this for the same reason -- to be successful, expand, and be happy doing what we're doing. But when the fun and then the money goes away, I need to ask myself this question: "Why am I still doing this?" To simply give people jobs and give all my money to the Man? I was under the impression that the American Dream was slightly different. If you would like to review this with Mr. Obama and/or an attorney, I completely understand and welcome the outside input -- as long as you foot the legal bill. Thank you for your time and understanding and send my regards to the Misses and your brother Vince Vaughn. P.S. if you need a table with bottle service for New Year's Eve, let me know. P.P.S. I'm Jewish -- so don't hold it against me while working on this wish list. Oh and I understand if you can only get #1-5 done as #6 was reaching it a bit.
Follow Michael Sinensky on Twitter: www.twitter.com/msinensky