Small Business Index: What Owners Say is Important, Right Now

By James O'Brien  |  Aug 22, 2012

A new poll shows what small-business owners are planning to do, and what they've noted as important to them, in the second half of 2012.

A new poll shows what small-business owners are planning to do, and what they've noted as important to them, in the second half of 2012.

There is little question that the Great Recession is not over, yet, as large corporations continue to cut jobs in the U.S. and unemployment is hovering at 8.3%.

If there's a silver lining, maybe it's this: A newly released poll shows that small-business owners plan to hire more employees this year.

The news comes in the middle of a tough month for those in the corporate sector.

On Aug. 12, Google announced that it would cut 20% of its recently acquired Motorola Mobility workforce, and the company said it would close one-third of its offices around the world.

But the Small Business Index released by small-business legal-resource vendor Rocket Lawyer on Aug. 15 shows that more than a third of small businesses actually expect fresh staff to join their ranks within the next six months. That seems like good news for job-seekers.

However, among the 436 owners polled, nationwide, the outlook is not entirely rosy.

Small Business Index: A Snapshot of August 2012
While 38% of polled small-business owners say they'll hire staff within the next six months, here's what else is in the survey:

  • 56% of small-business owners expect the second half of 2012 to be better than the first. Compare that with 86% who said, at the beginning of 2012, that the whole year would be better than 2011. "It is clear that the high costs of labor, benefits like health care and legal compliance have made some business owners uneasy," said Charley Moore, Rocket Lawyer founder and executive chairman.
  • 49% of the baby-boomer generation respondents said they were optimistic about their business' potential for growth in 2012. For millennials it was 79%. And 64% of Generation X said 2012 looked bright for their company's expansion.
  • 45% of the small-business owners, across all generations, said the economy is the number-one concern.
  • 67% of those polled said that small business has not been a prominent enough topic in the 2012 national election rhetoric.

The takeaway is perhaps that more attention is due to what's happening in the small-business sector.

Employment in June 2012 grew three times faster in the small-business sector than the U.S. national average: 2% growth in small-biz hires vs. 0.66%.

These numbers seem to indicate that many small-business owners are doing something right.

JAMES O'BRIEN - James O'Brien is a correspondent for The Boston Globe and Boston University's Research magazine. He blogs for clients on topics that range from music, art, and culture to business, investing, and personal finance. He holds a Ph.D. in Editorial Studies from the Editorial Institute at Boston University.
This article originally appeared on The Atlantic Online as part of the Investing In A Better Tomorrow program.

Content may be produced by outside parties not affiliated with Bank of America. Opinions or ideas expressed are not necessarily those of Bank of America, Merrill Lynch Wealth Management, U.S. Trust or Bank of America Merrill Lynch, nor do they reflect their views or endorsement. These materials are for informational purposes only. Bank of America, Merrill Lynch Wealth Management, U.S. Trust and Bank of America Merrill Lynch do not assume liability for any loss or damage resulting from anyone's reliance on the information provided.


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