Marketplace Op-Ed Series: Red tape can slow, but not stop a great product and business

By Debbie Pruneri McKeown

This story originally appeared on TheBlaze.com

This column is part of our ongoing series of op-eds this election season from small business owners working with The Marketplace by TheBlaze. We often hear politicians talk about what small business owners want, and if elected, what public officials could do to help these entrepreneurs. But we haven’t heard enough from small business owners themselves. This series will feature small business owners discussing their business, ‘how they built that,’ and what it has been like trying to sustain and grow their business over the last 4 years. 

I retired in 2006 from a 30-year career with GTE/Verizon. In January 2009, I began researching and laying the ground work to begin my new business. I originally wanted to produce “homemade” sausage and pasta sauce, inspired by my father, renowned for his sausage varieties. I quickly realized meat product, refrigeration & health regulations in California were going to be a huge hurdle. I settled for packaging a selection of  my father’s original “seasoning blends”, along with a selection of Balsamic Vinegars & Olive Oils.

In April 2009, Migliore Gourmet Distributors became an LLC, with the help of Legal Zoom.

That was the easy part. I then needed money. Initially, I used money from my savings, but soon realized I would need a business LOC or loan.  I went to my local banker of 20+ years, but was turned down for lack of years in business, needed to show profit and they would not consider my personal “retirement/401K” portfolio as collateral. I could not use my house either, because my business would be out of my home, not a business building. I called my contact at my local Chamber of Commerce to find a chamber member in banking, only to be told the same thing. I could not find any assistance for “small business (SBA), or woman owned/minority business. Eventually, I did receive a business LOC from the Bank of North Dakota located in Scottsdale, Arizona, which happened because of family friendship with the VP of the Bank. However, two years later, BNC was taken over by another small bank, that converted my LOC to a 4 year TERM Loan! Therefore, my business LOC comes from my personal credit cards and balance transfers when necessary.

To introduce my products, I began seeking trade shows, i.e., Home Shows, Fairs,Festivals, Food Shows, Home Parties – I would try just about any venue to see what clicked! I quickly learned that I would need Health Permits, Food Safety Certificates & more, if I wanted to provide any samples of my food products. Every county and every city has a variation of rules and requirements, not to mention additional fees. In some cities, I am required to purchase a business permit, even if it is for one day. I have a business permit that was issued in my county and they require us to add our “temp” shows to our permit, which allows them to apply any sales tax made at the event, to the appropriate city/county. Some cities also require us to have a fire extinguisher in our tent/space and will conduct a fire inspection prior to the event.

In September 2009 I rented space at the Los Angeles County Fair. This would be my first and last experience with fairs. I hired (6) of my friends as “casual/contractor” show assistants. I had consulted with my CPA and understood I could have casual workers during the year, as long as they did not exceed $600.00. The State of California requires Worker’s Compensation, regardless of number of hours or wage, as long as you (the business owner) provide a time that the “helper” is to be in your booth. That cost me an additional $703.00 in Worker’s Compensation Insurance for 30 days!

In January 2010, I received my first Corporate Tax Bill for $880.00, which is an annual fee. Fortunately, I sell “prepackaged” food items, which are exempt from Sales and Use Tax. However, I have some “gifting” options, crafted bags, dipping saucers, baskets, which are taxable. After diving into the “rules”, I did find certain items can be tax exempt, if included in your food “gift” basket. However, 2011 the Board of Equalization changed their electronic filing tool, which included a long form “district tax.” After spending eight hours on line, reading and populating the tool, I asked my friend and former CPA if she could figure it out. She spent another 3 hours – failed too. I called the Board and did receive a person that was able to help me out. At the end of the day, I owed California Board of Equalization $6.40 Sales and Use Tax for 2011.

Moving past government cost and challenge, I needed to learn all aspects of my business, as the only “full-time” employee. Quickbooks is far smarter than the original debit and credit columns I was trained on in college accounting! Vendors, Co-Packers, Inventory and shipping have improved with pure customer experiences and volume demand.

Finding a reputable website host with good security was very important. This is another very time consuming part of my business. Maintaining, updating and reviewing the content of my site, is MY responsibility. Newsletters and social media are crucial to my business, so I have taken webinars and classes to stay updated.

I joined the NASFT (National Association Specialty Food Trade) in 2009, which provides great resources for small business. I have taken advantage of their membership discounts for shipping programs. They have on-line publications that have provided “free” feature space. At the NASFT summer and winter shows, we have an opportunity to set up meetings, Business to Business, with large companies that would not typically be easy to contact. For my annual $300.00 membership fee, NASFT has been a tremendous resource and one of the best “springboards” for my gourmet food items.

Entering 2012, I have formed (3) partnerships with other websites. Two of the websites specialize in “gift shopping” and have “free” membership requirements. Markdown is the third and most exciting website, providing fantastic exposure and opportunity. More importantly, it gives me of a great deal of personal satisfaction and pride to be a part of this organization.

Just as many other small business owners, I was offended by President Obama’s “you didn’t build that” remarks in Virginia this past July, dismissing any credit of success being given to business owners.

He also stated “The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet”, which is also incorrect. In 1962, the (ARPA) Advanced Research Projects Agency of the US Department of Defense did not wake up one morning and decide to build a network for companies to “make money.” It was another decade before email even became available to a select few large companies, mostly “defense contractor” related. Not until the late 80’s, did the NSF (National Science Foundation) realize the significance of the internet and commercial interest. Obama must have borrowed Al Gore’s playbook on the Internet!

An Afghan interpreter who helped save then-Sen. Joe Biden's life in 2008 was among those stranded in Afghanistan after Biden's troop withdrawal. He has now escaped the country with his family, but not with President Biden's help.

Thanks to private organizations, including The Nazarene Fund, the interpreter and his family have now been rescued.

Watch the video clip below to hear Glenn Beck share the details:

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A shocking new report by The Daily Wire reveals that the furious father whose arrest at a school board meeting likely sparked the call for the FBI to investigate anti-CRT parents like domestic terrorists was furious for good reasons: The Loudoun County School Board allegedly tried to cover up his daughter's rape.

Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Utah) joined Glenn Beck on the radio program Tuesday to discuss the incident and explain why he joined 60 lawmakers in a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland demanding answers for why the FBI is targeting parents.

"We want to know ... what kind of coordination took place between the White House, activist groups and teachers unions, and the Department of Justice," Stewart told Glenn. "Because we have evidence that there was [coordination] and, in fact, that the White House are the ones who initiated this. They asked for these activist groups to write this inflammatory letter to the Department of Justice saying they were 'intimidated' and that they 'felt threatened', giving the Department of Justice Attorney General Garland, the excuse to say, 'Okay, well, we have to respond'."

Stewart went on to say he believes the federal government would only involve the FBI in such an issue if its purpose is to silence and intimidate parents concerned about the "poison" being taught to their kids in school. So, what can he and the other representatives who disagree with the Biden administration's overreach of power do to stop it?

Watch the video clip below to hear Stewart explain:

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Taiwan's Foreign Minister Joseph Wu is now warning that his nation is preparing for war with China after Beijing flew a record number of warplanes over Taiwanese territory. Wu reached out to another country for help, but it wasn't the United States.

In a video, Wu urged Australia to help prepare for a possible invasion, but gave the U.S. no mention.

"The defense of Taiwan is in our own hands, and we are absolutely committed to that. And if China is going to launch a war against Taiwan, we will fight until the end. And that is our commitment. And, of course, during this period of time, we would like to exchange with other countries for security cooperation," Wu said on ABC News In-depth's China Tonight program. "We would like to engage in security or intelligence exchanges with other like-minded partners, Australia included, so that Taiwan is better prepared to deal with the war situation. And so far, our relations with Australia is very good. And that is what we appreciate it for."

On "The Glenn Beck Program," Glenn, Pat Gray, and Stu Burguiere discussed whether or not America would do anything during such a conflict — because it sure seems like President Joe Biden is more focused on working with China to fight climate change. Plus, why did China just cut off all cryptocurrency?

Watch the video clip below to catch the conversation:

Want more from Glenn Beck?

To enjoy more of Glenn's masterful storytelling, thought-provoking analysis and uncanny ability to make sense of the chaos, subscribe to BlazeTV — the largest multi-platform network of voices who love America, defend the Constitution and live the American dream.

On "Glenn TV" tonight, Glenn Beck heads to the chalkboard to reveal how the fundamental transformation of America has already begun by turning the Declaration of Independence upside down.

If Donald Trump was a dictator, then what do we call President Biden? In Biden's first nine months in office, he has already issued 64 executive orders – that's more than Trump, Obama, W. Bush, Clinton, Bush, and Reagan each issued in their entire first years in office.

You never hear the Left talk about the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, or the Bill of Rights any more, unless it's to "reimagine" the Constitution or slap a "harmful content" warning on our founding documents. Seriously. The National Archives said while its website label wasn't targeting the Constitution specifically, "some of the materials presented here may reflect outdated, biased, offensive, and possibly violent views and opinions." The Left finds basic, guaranteed rights so offensive they now spend all of their time on workarounds to deal with America's annoying founding documents.

Watch the full episode of "Glenn TV" below to see Glenn outline the aggressive unconstitutional abuses "King Biden" is jamming down our throats and teaches Americans how we can defend against presidential tyranny.

Want more from Glenn Beck?

To enjoy more of Glenn's masterful storytelling, thought-provoking analysis and uncanny ability to make sense of the chaos, subscribe to BlazeTV — the largest multi-platform network of voices who love America, defend the Constitution and live the American dream.