(This column originally appeared in The Guardian)
This past week Joe Biden gave a speech in which he touted his economic policies and, rather than deflecting, he leaned into what many of his opponents called “Bidenomics”.
Bidenomics is the opposite of “trickle-down” theory, which holds that tax cuts to wealthy individuals and corporations ultimately find their way to the rest of the population through more spending and investment. For the president and his supporters, Bidenomics means government spending and investment in infrastructure and services that create jobs and growth.
“I didn’t come up with the name, I really didn’t,” he said in his remarks. “I now claim it.”
If you’re a small business owner or an entrepreneur a president’s economic policies — assuming they can get congressional support — really do matter. This is not to claim that Biden’s economic agenda will be any more or less successful than his predecessors’: for many the trickle-down v spending debate will never be resolved. But when a president sets an agenda it reveals where money will be spent. And my smartest, most experienced clients are watching closely. Why? Because regardless of where they stand politically, what’s best for their business is always, always, always to follow the money.
They know that when you own a business your job is to create value and build an organization that provides a livelihood for all the people that rely on you. This includes your customers, your suppliers, your partners and of course your employee and their families, as well as your family. Which means that you put politics aside (until it’s time to cast your vote) and instead you follow the money. Get it?
So where is the Bidenomics money going?
For starters, there’s almost $300bn going towards building chip manufacturing plants under the 2022 Chips Act. There’s also another $391bn that’s being spent on companies that are improving their energy efficiency and making greener products under the Inflation Reduction Act. A trillion dollars is being expended on roads, buildings and other infrastructure projects thanks to the 2021 Infrastructure Act. That’s about $1.7tn, which is a lot of money. The president is also telling us that more will be spent on affordable healthcare, social services and education.
That’s where the money’s going over the next few years and even more will be spent if he wins re-election in 2024. When it comes to your business, it doesn’t matter whether you agree with these policies. What matters is that you take advantage of them for the benefit of your business. So how are my clients doing this?
If you want to sell products and services to the chip manufacturers and other players in the industry (and the most active ones — like Intel, Samsung, GlobalFoundries and Skywater Technologies — are already in line for the funding) then target these companies and their projects and consider what products and services of yours can be sold to them. Or you can do your research, identify opportunities and start filling out applications at places like the Department of Commerce’s Chips.gov, or at Chips Act which is a private organization that provides support for businesses looking for help writing grants and submitting proposals. Or you can go directly to the Semiconductor Industry Association or read the excellent guidance provided by Semi, an organization that supports companies in the electronic manufacturing and supply chain industries.
If you want to get funding for energy-efficient projects or to help develop energy efficient products you should start with the White House Inflation Reduction Act Guidebook which lists dozens of government agencies that are doling out money to organizations of all sizes for just that purpose. The Department of Energy’s Office of Manufacturing and Energy Supply Chains has $6bn available for projects and, wow, you can’t get any more government-sounding than that, right? Or if you merely want to maximize your use of the expanded tax credits under the legislation visit the IRS’s Inflation Reduction Act web area.
Maybe you want to get in on the $1tn infrastructure spending? The White House, Federal Highway Administration, Department of Energy and Department of Commerce all have funding opportunities related to the 2021 legislation.
Follow the money. Start at any of the places I’ve mentioned above and get ready to go down the Federal Rabbit Hole.
Finding this money, let alone applying, isn’t easy. Which is why many of my clients don’t do this. They’re lazy. My best clients — and I have a handful — have already hired summer interns whose jobs are to peruse the maze of government bureaucracy, identify opportunities and start filling out forms. Doing this takes time, effort, tenacity. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it.
Even if you’re not in the construction industry you can still leverage Bidenomics. That’s because all of the companies that are getting funding will need your products or services. Chip manufacturing plants will have employees that eat pizza. Highways have buildings that need to be cleaned. “Green” products need to be transported. People in these industries getting all that money will need accountants, lawyers, architects, marketing professionals and workplace consultants.
Bidenomics. Obamacare. Supply side. Trickle down. These are just words. Political phrases to create headlines and catch the attention of voters. Smart business owners know this. They don’t get distracted by these terms. And they don’t let their politics muddle their strategies. What they do is follow the money. And my best clients have taught me that whether you’re a fan of Biden’s — or any president’s economic policies — there’s always plenty of money and opportunities to pursue if you just follow the money.