It’s no surprise that when our national economy takes a hit small business owners feel every bump along the way. And sadly, two issues that never seem to go away for small business owners is the availability of health care coverage and access to adequate capital to grow their business.
The National Small Business Association just released the results of a national survey exploring the state of the small-business community and business owners’ opinions on a broad range of topics including economic outlook, employee and labor issues, financing, technology and public policy.
After unease about the economy’s future (42 percent), the cost of health insurance (39 percent) and lack of available capital (31 percent) topped small-business concerns. While 58 percent of small-business owners offered health insurance to their employees 10 years ago, that number declined to 51 percent in 2000 and reached a low of 41 percent in 2007. This drop is especially troublesome because, when asked which benefit they’d most like to offer their employees, 77 percent selected health insurance.
Small businesses also are finding it more difficult to obtain adequate financing. Ten years ago, 24 percent of business owners reported that they were not able to obtain adequate funding, mirroring the NSBA poll results in 2000. But, in 2007, 33 percent (a nine-percent increase) cited this concern. The smallest businesses, those with four or fewer employees, are most likely to turn to credit cards to fund their operations. Most businesses using a credit card to fund their business (71 percent) carry a balance from month to month. And, of those businesses, 36 percent carry a balance in excess of $10,000. Businesses unable to access capital report difficulty growing their business and hiring additional employees.
Small business owners don’t feel real good about the economy either. When asked to compare today’s economy with the economy five years ago, the plurality of respondents (43 percent) felt today’s economy was in worse shape. Even with a dim view of today’s economy, the vast majority (81 percent) have a bright outlook for their own prospects. The majority of small businesses expect gross revenues (68 percent) and net profits (65 percent) to increase in the next 12 months.
The survey, conducted by national polling firm Public Opinion Strategies, sampled 500 small and mid-sized businesses from a wide variety of industries and has a margin of error of ± 4.38 percent. The survey captured truly small businesses with most respondents (55 percent) having 1-4 employees followed by the second largest segment (28 percent) having 5-19 employees. The majority of businesses surveyed (78 percent) have been in business for three years or more.
For 70 years, NSBA has been an advocate for the interests of small business throughout the country. The organization, which reaches more than 150,000 small businesses, is the nation’s oldest small-business advocacy organization. A copy of the survey’s findings can be found at the NSBA website.