If the economy is to gain momentum, small businesses will need to be able to readily expand and hire more workers.
The vast majority – 81 percent – of small business owners expect to do better in 2014 than last year, according to a recent survey by Rocket Lawyer, an online legal services company.
As would be expected, business owners cited the health of the economy as the biggest political concern.
Interestingly, although business groups often push for lower taxes to help attract and expand businesses, only 12.5 percent of those surveyed identified tax policy as their top political concern.
More business owners (17.5 percent) reported new health care laws were their primary political issue. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) mandates employers with 50 or more full-time equivalent employees offer coverage to those working 30 hours per week, or face a penalty. Of those surveyed, 8 percent said the ACA led them to hire fewer employees.
A separate survey published last year by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation ranked states and cities with the most small business-friendly policies.
Here’s a sample of questions and results from the Rocket Lawyer survey. The firm collected responses from 861 members nationwide in October and November.
Do you think that 2014 will be better than 2013 for your business?
Yes – 80.8%
No – 7.1%
Same – 12.1%
What is your biggest concern in the U.S. political environment?
Economic growth, health of economy – 29.85%
New health care laws – 17.5%
Tax policy – 12.5 %
I don’t have any concerns – 11.6%
Government regulation – 8.36%
National deficit – 6.7%
Other (please specify) – 6.2%
Impact of the government shutdown – 4.5%
International affairs, conflicts – 2.7%
What do you think are the top impediments to your business’ growth?
Economic uncertainty – 49.1%
Competition – 19.4%
Other (please specify) – 11%
Political uncertainty – 8.7%
Big business – 7.1%
Legal issues – 4.65%
What is the biggest legal concern for your small business?
Complying with Government Regulations – 26.48%
Debt collection – 16.49%
Lawsuits/Getting Sued – 16.26%
Incorporation – 14.52%
Other (please specify) – 13.7%
Trademark or Patent issues – 6.74%
Victim of theft or fraud – 5.81%
Did the Affordable Care Act affect your hiring strategy?
Yes, we hired more – 0.9%
Yes, we hired less – 8%
No, it didn’t have any effects – 75.1%
I don’t know – 15.9%
Have you already or do you plan on enrolling in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in the next year or two?
Yes – 19.7%
No – 45.4%
I'm not sure – 34.8%
Why are you not planning on enrolling in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in the next year or two?
I have less than 50 employees – 40.2%
I already have a health insurance plan I’m satisfied with – 30.25%
I don’t know enough about it yet – 15.5%
I am adamantly against the ACA – 8.25%
Other (please specify) – 5.8%