Top 10 lists (or eight in this case) are always interesting and insightful, maybe even fun. I decided to pass along this “Best and Worst Developments for Small Businesses in 2001,” along with a few editorial comments of my own.

The Small Business Survival Committee, which calls itself “one of the nation’s leading national small business advocacy organizations,” in January released the following list:

BEST IMPACT:

1. Passage of the Bush Tax Cut Package. With 90% of business owners paying personal income taxes rather than corporate income taxes, the across-the-board reductions in income tax rates signed into law this year will improve the bottom line for many small businesses. A significant cut in the estate or “death tax” was also a huge positive about the plan.

2. Deep Interest Rate Cuts. The Federal Reserve cut short term interest rates from 6.5% to 1.75% in 2001, a whopping reduction. While access to credit is still a big issue for small businesses, lower rates should have a positive impact. (Editor’s note: interest rate cuts only seem to come when the economy is in a slump; I’ll take a strong economy any day.)

3. Sharply Lower Energy Prices. Gasoline prices have declined 25-30% over the past year. Combined with unseasonably warm weather late in the year, most small businesses should see their costs reduced significantly. (Editor’s note: doesn’t help you sell high efficiency furnaces and air conditioners, does it? Also, aren’t lower prices short term just going to hurt us in the future?)

4. Moratorium on Internet Taxes. The information superhighway has become the fast lane to growth for many small businesses. Congress extended the moratorium on internet taxes for another two years, keeping the road-blocks out of the way.

5. Scuttling the Kyoto Treaty. Putting Chicken Little back in her hen house, President Bush declined to impose the destructive regulations required by the Kyoto global climate treaty. On the basis of fanciful environmental theories, the treaty would have iced countless U.S businesses and jobs. (Editor’s note: I don’t know where to start with this one. “Fanciful environmental theories?” Please!)

6. Settling the Microsoft Suit. With technology at the center of so many small businesses, the uncertainty about the future of Microsoft left many small businesses uncertain about the future. With the suit moving to settlement and the release of Windows XP, there’s a lot less to worry about. (Editor’s note: what’s so great about XP?”)

7. Harry Potter & the Hobbits. Strong holiday movie openings signal that consumers are beginning to venture back out – a positive sign for the hard hit entertainment and hospitality industries. (Editor’s note: no argument here; that Gandalf is one cool dude!)

8. Erased Ergonomic Regulations. Congress and President Bush repealed a host of onerous ergonomic rules and regulations issued at the last minute by former President Clinton. The rules would have cost some $125 billion to implement. (Editor’s note: It also might have lowered worker comp claims and improved working conditions.)

The “Worst Impact” list I couldn’t find much fault with. It led, of course, with September 11, followed by the recession. Hard to argue with that. I guess bad news is just plain bad news, and it was harder, at least for me, to find much good in 2001. Here’s hoping that by the time these words see print ’01 will be old news and things are looking up for everyone, including small business.

You can find out more about the Small Business Survival Committee by contacting them at 202-785-0238.

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