A new survey released by Gallup and Wells Fargo shows small-business owners are about as optimistic headed into this year as they were going into 2013. About 28% say they are less optimistic about their business’ future, while 23% say they are more hopeful. Attitudes about the business climate for 2014 are similarly mixed, with about a quarter anticipating it will be worse and another 25% expecting it to be better. Compared to last year, more owners are positive now about the future business environment.
Asked about business challenges, owners frequently mentioned the direction of the economy, the potential effect of healthcare policy, government regulation and taxes. About as many small-business owners see internal issues as their biggest challenges, though. Attracting new customers, cash flow concerns, costs and fees associated with running a company, hiring and keeping competent staff and getting credit were also commonly listed as challenges.
“Some of small-business owners’ lack of optimism may be borne out of their concern about factors over which they have little direct control, including the economy, the government, and the implications of the rollout of the new healthcare law,” Gallup/Wells Fargo said. “Other concerns are more direct, including basic issues that are part of their competitive environment such as their ability to attract new customers and to find and retain good employees.”