HOUSTON — Confidence is improving among small-business owners, according to a recent survey from human-resources firm Administaff, but almost three-quarters (71%) continue to name the economy as their top short-term concern.
More than 39% of small-business owners expect an economic turnaround in 2010, says the firm's quarterly Business Confidence Survey, while 44% think a rebound will occur in 2011. About 17% were unsure.
Respondents naming the economy as one of their biggest short-term concerns decreased from 77% in October 2009 and 83% in July. Other major concerns included healthcare reform (54%), rising healthcare costs (43%), and rising operating costs (41%).
Asked about prospects for new business in 2010, 55% expect sales to increase, up from 48% in October. About 30% predicted sales will stay the same, 7% expect sales to fall and 7% were unsure. Almost three-quarters (72%) said that they are meeting or exceeding 2010 performance plans compared to 58% in October 2009.
A majority of survey respondents (60%) said they are maintaining current staffing levels, and 31% are adding new positions, up from 28% six months ago. Only 9% are considering layoffs, versus 11% in October and 16% last July. Almost as many (57%) say they will keep compensation levels the same this year, with 22% planning to issue raises.
"The current economic environment is prompting owners of small- and medium-sized businesses to take more positive, but guarded, steps toward moving ahead in 2010," says Paul J. Sarvadi, Administaff's chairman and CEO. "Commerce for many industries is picking up, but some business segments are still waiting on constructive recovery signals."
For additional information about the survey or Administaff services, visit its website, www.administaff.com.