Small-Business and Q1: An Uncertainty ‘Report Card’

Small Business Report CardSmall-business owners say the early part of 2013 was all about the financial crisis in Congress, with 37% indicating in a recent survey that they delayed hiring due to uncertainties stemming from what would come of the impasse.

With sequestration now the new reality, it remains to be seen what will develop in terms of small-business human resources as the result. Let’s look at some of the deeper issues and effects of recent changes in the economic scenario. We turn to the numbers, and the people generating them, to examine where SMBs stand at the end of Quarter 1, as they start the rest of 2013.

Q4–Q1: The Horizon for SMBs

Tough times have apparently taken a toll on small-business owners.

Among those polled by Manta, a company that connects SMBs with new clientele and resources, 82% did not make any new hires from October–December of 2012. More than half (65%) didn’t plan to add staff in Q1 of 2013. Meanwhile, nearly 40% of those businesses said that these decisions correlated directly with the recent fiscal turmoil in Washington.

More stats and figures:

  • 14% said they would not increase salaries or issue bonuses until the effects of the fiscal wrangling became clear.
  • 13% indicated that they had already eliminated discretionary spending.

Respondents also said they were leaving behind some healthy habits in favor of working harder at their shops.

  • 29% of small-business owners said they ate healthier and worked out more, in recent months, but that’s down compared to nearly 51% who said they were doing so during 2011.
  • Nearly half of those polled said they worked more than 50 hours/week, up more than 20% from 2011.
  • 37% of the owners said they averaged less than 6 hours of sleep every night.

But all hope hasn’t been lost. Among the small businesses polled by Manta, 78% of the owners said they’re still hopeful about growth in 2013.

“I’m always hopeful about the year ahead, but I also know it’s on me to make it happen,” said Stuart Rubenstein, co-owner of Florida-based Kaleidoscope Limited, who participated in the survey. And that attitude is no surprise to Pamela Springer, Manta’s chief executive officer. The will to survive, and to thrive, she said, is a hallmark of the SMB demographic.

“The New Year has a new level of uncertainty for all businesses,” said Springer, but, she added: “It is inherent for small-business owners to have a can-do attitude, even in the toughest of times.”

 

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