Top Issues for Small Business Owners
According to the Small Business Association (SBA), the number of small businesses is growing. Recent data shows a newly upward trend in startups, and an influx of jobs created by businesses with less than 50 employees, which has positively contributed to a declining unemployment rate. Still, only about half of small businesses with employees survive to the five-year mark and beyond (SBA). What factors most influence a new business’s success, and what are the major issues facing employers today? A recent survey by the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) and research from other small business organizations highlight some of the most critical issues affecting the small business landscape.
Healthcare and Government:
The cost of healthcare and “unreasonable” government regulation topped the list of concerns for small business owners in 2016, according to the NFIB survey. Growing insurance rates coupled with increasing requirements for employers to provide and report back to the government about health insurance creates a major headache for many small business owners. Unfortunately, the problem isn’t going away, and the implementation of new healthcare requirements doesn’t seem to be getting any less confusing.
Similarly, other government regulations are another serious issue for small business owners who responded to the survey. Business owners cite not just new regulations but the time and paperwork required to comply as a drain on time, profits and other resources.
Both state and federal taxes continue to be a stressor for small business owners. High federal taxes, tax complexity and frequent changes in tax laws are all part of the problem. As with healthcare and government regulations, navigating complex and constantly changing tax codes is nearly as frustrating to employers as parting with their hard-earned profits to pay steep tax rates.
According to the NFIB survey, “Finding and Keeping Skilled Employees” and “Locating Qualified Employees” are growing in importance to small business owners in the U.S. The job landscape is changing rapidly in favor of “knowledge workers” with an above-average education level, who can adapt and learn new skills quickly. But Pew Research shows that Americans have little faith that the government or any political leader can address this growing problem. Both employers and individuals will need to bear the responsibility for training and retaining employees who can get the job done.
Uncertainty and the Economy:
Anxiety about economic conditions and what’s on the horizon ranks as the number four concern of small business owners today. The NFIB survey attributes this uncertainty to employers’ inability to anticipate, and therefore respond to, changing rules and conditions, as well as difficult economic conditions. The SBA reports, however, that businesses started before and after the downturn of 2000 “had almost identical survival paths,” noting that “a negative economy has little effect on a given business’s survival.” But the same SBA report also notes that businesses who survive a challenging economic period may only suffer from its negative impacts further down the road.
Starting a small business is difficult, but it’s also extremely rewarding. Make sure you study up, and you’ll be able to tackle these issues head on.