June 18, 2012 | last updated June 18, 2012 9:24 am

Courageous leadership? Ask small business owners how it's done

Dan Danner

It takes a lot of courage to start a small business. It takes even more courage to stick with it during tough times like these when the nation's financial structure is wobbling, uncertainty fills the air and even the basic principles of free enterprise are being questioned by anti-business politicians.

Although the sinking economy has threatened the ranks of Main Street firms, there is no shortage of courage among America's risk-taking entrepreneurs. They have few doubts that the cure to the nation's economic ills can be found in the daily business practices they've proved time and again — if only our political leaders could summon the guts to adopt them.

One has simply to study the example of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker who recently withstood an all-out assault by powerful labor unions determined to rob him of his duly elected office because he dared to challenge their powerful grip on the state's spending policies. Walker inspired and encouraged Badger State business owners by never wavering from his brave stand to bring fiscal responsibility back to the state. Holding the line for taxpayers and small-business owners, the governor won with strong support from a grassroots initiative launched by NFIB, the nation's oldest and largest small-business organization.

Like courageous small-business owners, Walker drew a line in the political dirt and refused to compromise his principles. It was a daring stand. Big labor is an intimidating force to be reckoned with, able to deliver on its threats at the ballot box against those who won't kowtow to the union label. But NFIB demonstrated that fear and intimidation are no match for educated citizens who understand that government must follow sound fiscal policies rather than pandering to those who view tax dollars as their sole entitlement.

Truly informed voters know that neither government nor labor unions create jobs that return significant benefits to the economy. In boosting Walker's effort to represent all citizens, not just a favored few, the organization drew much-needed attention to a courageous political leader's commitment to lower taxes, reform government spending, reduce unnecessary regulation and foster a more predictable legal atmosphere.

This is not a new endeavor for NFIB. We've worked hard building a grassroots movement for more than six decades. Most recently, we showed courage by challenging President Obama's health reform law before the Supreme Court, gained a favorable ruling for small businesses overregulated by the IRS, and successfully challenged the union-controlled National Labor Relations Board's demand that small firms display pro-union posters in their workplaces.

NFIB will soon ramp up its broad, national outreach to engage small-business owners in deciding key political races. Expect to see the images of Gov. Scott Walker and successful small-business owners on display as examples for those candidates who may not be familiar with the traits of courageous leadership.

Dan Danner is president and CEO of the National Federation of Independent Business, which represents 350,000 small-business owners in Washington, D.C. and every state capital.

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