By JOYCE M. ROSENBERGNEW YORK (AP) â¿¿ Dane Stangler has never owned a small business, and doesn't expect to ever own one. But he's in a position to understand the challenges facing people who own small companies. Stangler is the director of the Research & Policy department at the Ewing Marion Kaufmann Foundation. His job is to help the foundation determine how it can encourage and mentor entrepreneurs. His department conducts research and surveys and analyzes studies done by researchers at other institutions. So he is familiar with the issues that entrepreneurs and small businesses face. The Kauffman foundation was started in the mid-1960s by Ewing Marion Kauffman, founder of the pharmaceutical firm Marion Laboratories (now part of the French drug maker Sanofi) and baseball's Kansas City Royals. Part of the foundation's mission is to foster entrepreneurship, something it does through grants and research. The foundation draws what Stangler calls a blurry distinction between entrepreneurs, the people who start companies or run young enterprises, and small businesses, which Kauffman sees as companies that have made it past their early years. Some small business issues, like income taxes, aren't a problem for entrepreneurs whose businesses may not be making a profit, Stangler notes. But small companies of all sizes face some of the same problems: the weak economy and the prospect of federal budget cuts. Stangler went into research at Kauffman after graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Madison law school in 2004. Ask him if he ever expects to have his own business, and he laughs, saying that his wife Katie, a pediatric nurse practitioner, is more likely to be the family entrepreneur, perhaps starting a crafts business. Stangler spoke recently with The Associated Press as Congress was haggling about the fiscal cliff, the combination of billions of dollars in tax increases and budget cuts scheduled to go into effect Jan. 1. Economists have warned that if Congress doesn't prevent those tax increases and budget cuts from going into effect, the country will be at risk of going into a recession. And it's believed that small businesses would suffer the most.