We should listen when 1,102 small business owners and executives tell us what’s on their mind. After all, they know what’s going on in small business better than anyone else because they live it every day.
The 2016 State of Small Business Report reveals insights on small business owners’ thoughts about growth, the economy, government, marketing, hiring, and technology use. Things aren’t as rosy or clear-cut as many of the pundits make them appear.
Here are some of the small business facts from the report, which was released earlier this week by Wasp Barcode Technologies:
1. Top challenges of small business owners: Hiring new employees, increasing profits, and employee healthcare were selected as the top three challenges they’re facing in 2016.
2. Employee healthcare is a bigger challenge this year than it was in 2015. Back then, only 29 percent cited it as a top challenge; in 2016, the number jumped up to 43 percent.
3. Confidence in economy has dropped. Small businesses have LESS confidence in the economy than they did in 2015. (Twenty-five percent say their confidence is worse for 2016–compared to 21 percent in 2015–and 44 percent say their confidence is better for 2016–compared to 47 percent in 2015.)
4. Small businesses want to hire in 2016. Fifty percent of U.S. small businesses plan to hire new employees in 2016, up from 38 percent in 2015. Unfortunately, 85 percent of them say they can’t find enough qualified applicants.
5. More expect to increase revenue. Seventy-one percent of small businesses expect revenue growth in 2016, more than they did in 2015 (57 percent).
6. There’s not a lot of love for government. Fifty percent believe the government does not do enough to support U.S. small businesses; only 24 percent believe government does.
7. Some want government completely out of small business. One in 10 said they didn’t want government involved at all.
8. They favor a Republican presidential win in 2016. While most small businesses expect little impact from the 2016 presidential elections, 39 percent expect a positive impact on their business’s growth if a Republican wins and 22 percent said a GOP win would have a negative win. The feelings weren’t as positive for a Democratic win: 34 percent said it would have a positive impact on their business’s growth, and 30 percent said it would hurt growth.
9. Most marketing budgets are small. Nine percent invest nothing in marketing, 25 percent invest 1-3 percent of their revenue, and 29 percent invest 4-6 percent.
10. The top four marketing tools used by small business are email, company websites, social media, and word of mouth.
11. Social media use is not universal. One in five small businesses does not use social media.
12. Websites are missing key parts. Only 50 percent of small businesses provide company locations, phone numbers, and email addresses on their website; only 35 percent give website visitors the opportunity to apply for a job; 68 percent do not conduct e-commerce.
13. Inventory information is not up-to-date. Only 16 percent use inventory control software/systems; 56 percent use Excel, pen and paper, or other systems that cannot be updated in real time.
14. Information about their assets is not current. Only 17 percent use an asset tracking system; most use Excel or an accounting system to keep up with the locations, conditions, values, and disposal of company assets.
15. Creative and technical work gets farmed out more than other tasks. Fifty-four percent of small businesses use outsource firms or contractors for graphic design and website design; 44 percent outsource their tax preparation.
About the 2016 State of Small Business Report
The 2016 State of Small Business Report research is based on a random online sample of 1,102 U.S. small business owners/managers with companies with five to 499 employees. The anonymous survey was conducted via the Internet from December 9-14, 2015. The survey has a margin of error of +/- 2.87 at the 95% level of confidence. Sikora Associates provided statistical analysis.