Shutdown shakes comfort level of small business owners

The U.S. Capitol is seen at sunrise in Washington, D.C., October 8, 2013, on the eighth day of the government shutdown.

We've been talking to people this week who aren't in the government, who don't work for the government, but who are nonetheless really feeling the shutdown. Small business owners who are trying to get by without the government in their daily lives. On Monday, the president of the Delaware Steel Company in Pennsylvania told Marketplace that in the manufacturing industry, working during the shutdown was "like being held hostage." A hog farmer in Illinois said he feels like he's flying blind because of the shutdown.

Olalah Njenga runs her own marketing and strategic planning company called YellowWood Group in Raleigh, N.C. She says there's a lot of uncertainty among small business owners.

"I think fundamentally what's happening right now has really shaken the comfort level for small business owners in general. And even if we were to recover from it quickly, there will always be that thing in the back of most small business owners' minds," she says. "I think once you get a shake like that, fundamentally, it just changes how you look at the role of government, and it changes whether or not you believe the government is really there to protect your interests."

She says she's working through her anger over the shutdown.

"I think that being angry is more about 'Can we get to the policymaking and get off the puffery, get off the politics, get off the grandstanding -- and really put the needs of the people at the forefront of the dialogue and stop playing this game of chicken?'" she says. "I'm just numb. I'm frustrated, I'm numb, I'm overwhelmed, I'm tired. And at the end of the day, I've still got a company to run, and I still have a team to lead."

About the author

Kai Ryssdal is the host and senior editor of Marketplace, the most widely heard program on business and the economy in the country.


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