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I live and work in the Washington, D.C. area and prior to starting my company, SBG Technology Solutions, I was no stranger to the White House, the Pentagon, Congress, and other prominent buildings and the officials who serve within them. I continue to learn every day and was reminded this week about the importance of not taking relationships, access, and advocacy for granted.
In serving our country for 27 years, from working at the Pentagon to being deployed in the Persian Gulf, to serving at the White House as a White House Fellow, to commissioning and commanding an Aegis Guided Missile Destroyer, – the U.S.S. Bulkeley, I always worked with incredible men and women who dedicated their lives to public service. The experience I gained, and relationships I built with those service men and women and dedicated public civilian officials were my “on-the-ground” skills training for running a government contracting services company.
I am increasingly aware that while running a company well is increasingly important, more is needed. Advocating on behalf of the business community is equally as important as effectively meeting payroll and gaining the respect of one’s customers.
On Monday, several cabinet officials met with small business owners like me to acknowledge how regulation can stifle job creation and innovation. Small Business Administration Administrator Linda McMahon recognized that small businesses bear the brunt of dealing with over $1 trillion of red tape emanating from Washington, D.C. Our government leaders were asking me and everyone else in the room for solutions.
My basic reply to Linda McMahon was that rules governing federal contracting are way too complex, and because of the myriad of burdensome, duplicative, and sometimes pointless reporting requirements, companies like mine are not able to compete with businesses that have multiple floors of lawyers and lobbyists.
My time spent at the White House reminded me that face-to-face advocacy matters. And, involvement in business organizations matters. Whether it is through membership in your local or state chamber of commerce, or involvement with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, small business involvement is important and our voices matters.
That same sense of worth I felt while serving our country is present when I represent my fellow small business owners in Washington, D.C. I do not take it for granted.
Editor's note: Mr. Del Toro's meeting did not take place at the White House. The piece's title has been corrected to reflect this.