After Camping Courting, What is Next for Small Business

By Chris Earl, Reporter

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - Leslie VanBogart has been running two spray tanning businesses between Cedar Rapids and Iowa City for the past year. She does have long-term plans to turn her expertise and vision into a strong franchise in the area.

"I'd like to be all over the United States, with Your Tanning Bar everywhere, but I think a realistic goal in five years is probably ten (stores)."

At 24, VanBogart has owned and operated her Your Tanning Bar stores in less than a stellar economy. She is one business owner who believes President Obama's re-election last week will curb growth opportunities for entreprenuers like herself and, eventually, the workers they would hire.

"I am worried about the tax rates going up to get this economy back on," said VanBogart in her Cedar Rapids location. "Raising taxes on small businesses, I don't think, is going to help."

This comes as national news outlets, in recent days, have looked inside companies, across the country, that have let workers go, with owners reacting to the election results. Both President Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney made extensive pitches to small business owners through the 2012 campaign.

Trying to get a grasp on which candidate that small business owners supported has been tricky leading up to the November 6 election. Romney's campaign made an overt push in the summer but a September poll, (U.S. News, 9/18/12) showed the President with a moderate lead, 39% to 31%.

Cookie Vanous is one of the local business owners who supported the President during the campaign. Vanous is the long-time owner and operator of Czech Feather & Down Company on First Street NW in Mount Vernon. Formerly in the Czech Village in Cedar Rapids, Vanous moved the business to Mount Vernon after the Flood of 2008.

"Business is picking up," said Vanous amid a wall of pillows in her store. "If we continue to go on every year like we have, it's getting better."

Vanous said she comes a proposed increase in business regulations, in that she believes "they help every business".

This remains a highly political issue as business owners want to see more disposable income in the marketplace in 2013, especially as VanBogart and Vanous rely on that extra money in the budgets of their clients. They may simply differ on the path to get there but both agree on the lifestyle required of owning and running a business.

"You have to do it all," said Vanous. "You're working all the time. It's not that you can depend on someone else. If you stop, the money stops."

"As a small business owner, we don't necessarily pay ourselves," said VanBogart. "We pay them before we pay ourselves and we're all trying to make it in this economy."

As a note, both Vanous and VanBogart employ fewer than five people each, making them exempt from the provisions within the Affordable Care Act as that moves further into place before the January 1, 2014 threshold.
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