WASHINGTON, D.C. — Increasing costs are forcing small-business owners to drop healthcare coverage and embrace healthcare reform, says a new survey from the National Small Business Association (NSBA), while difficulty accessing capital is slowing growth.
“Small-business owners’ concern about the increasing cost of health insurance and a lack of access to capital is a wake-up call for policymakers in Washington,” NSBA President Todd McCracken says. “Business owners are now willing to embrace healthcare reforms to a degree that will surprise many people.”
The national survey asked small-business owners’ opinions on topics including their economic outlook, employee and labor issues, financing, technology and public policy. In addition to 2007 data, the survey compares current results with past NSBA surveys, offering trend data back to 1993.
The chief concerns of small-business owners were uneasy about the economy’s future (42%), the cost of health insurance (39%) and lack of available capital (31%). Some 58% of small-business owners offered health insurance to employees 10 years ago, only 41% did in 2007. When asked which benefit they’d most like to offer their employees, 77% of respondents picked health insurance.
Small businesses are also finding it difficult to obtain adequate financing. Ten years ago and again in 2000, 24% of business owners said they weren’t able to obtain adequate funding. This year, 33% said good financing is hard to find.
When asked to compare today’s economy with the economy five years ago, 43% of respondents felt today’s economy was in worse shape. However, the vast majority (81%) have a bright outlook; 68% expect gross revenues to grow over the next 12 months, and 65% expect the same of net profits.
“While the 2007 NSBA Small Business Survey finds that our smallest businesses are pessimistic about the economy as a whole, they remain optimistic about their own prospects,” says Glen Bolger, partner and cofounder of the research firm Public Opinion Strategies. “This tracks closely with what we’d expect to see from self-starting entrepreneurs.”