CINCINNATI — Inflation is the biggest concern among small business owners, according to a report by Bank of America.
Almost one in four small businesses lost revenue in 2021 and less than half feel confident their local economy will improve. In one case, inflation pressure pushed an entrepreneur into a full-time side hustle.
On some highway somewhere between Ohio and Springfield, Missouri, Baoku Moses steered an 18-wheel tractor-trailer full of freight. Somehow, what he does for a living feels as complicated as the cause.
“That is a tricky question,” he said. “(My rented studio) became too much to sustain without classes. I had to give up the space.”
Baoku’s Village, a wellness center offering dance, music and yoga lessons in Covington, lost its space. Between the COVID-19 pandemic and inflation, revenue to sustain the business Moses spent 20 years building vanished.
“We started with big classes, several people in each class to it dropping and people coming to class and saying, hey I’ll pay you next week,” Moses said.
Michael Jones, professor of economics at the University of Cincinnati, said the U.S. is still dealing with “lingering effects” from the stimulus acts that passed in 2021.
“It was $2 trillion and if the supply chain can’t respond to that increased money that’s in the economy then that’s going to cause prices to go up as well,” Jones said.
To slow spending and reverse rising consumer good prices, the Federal Reserve Board authorized the largest interest rate hike in more than two decades. Last week, President Joe Biden praised federal programs for helping Americans open 5.4 million new businesses last year.
“Thanks to the economic strategy more and more small businesses are being created and small businesses are creating more jobs faster than ever before,” the president said at the time.
Based on the job market and spending, though, economists hardly see much immediate growth in store for the economy.
“Since I’ve been on the road, it’s like, Americans are trying,” Moses said, “They work hard. People work hard. When you work hard, you will be expecting to live an OK comfortable life, but I feel like our government, sorry to say, has lost touch with reality.”
The father of two 9-year-old twins who once performed with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and dreamed of building his brand of wellness centers around the Tri-State still teaches between road trips. Moses also remains part of a band of entrepreneurs trying to hold on to dreams while finding the means to afford them.
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