Small Businesses Worry About Regulations

Originally published by: Washington PostOctober 26, 2011

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Never mind how much revenue they’ll collect or how many new employees they’ll be able to hire – many small firms are worried about whether they’ll even be in business next year, and they’re blaming their fears on Uncle Sam.

More than one out of three small business owners are moderately or very worried about going under in 2012, according to a recent Gallup/Wells Fargo poll. Roughly the same number of owners are concerned they will be unable to hire new employees, unable to pay their current workers and struggle to compete with their large competitors.

“The magnitude of the challenges facing small-business owners is reflected by the one-third who are worried that they may go out of business or not have enough money to pay their employees in 2012,” Gallup Chief Economist Dennis Jacobe wrote in a statement.

The statistics were derived from interviews with 604 small business owners conducted earlier this month (margin of error of 4 percentage points). The data was weighted to reflect the views of business owners with less than $20 million in sales or revenues.

The group also released its latest small business index, which is meant to convey owners’ ratings of the present economic climate and their expectations for the near future. After turning positive (+12) in January for the first time since early 2009, the index dipped back down to 0 this summer and has gone negative (-3).

So what’s ailing small business? According to owners, the government is the source of its biggest problems.

Twenty-two percent of those polled said government regulations represent the biggest thorn in their side, a figure consistent with another Gallup poll that shows more than a quarter of small business owners now believe limiting the role of government would be the best way to spark job growth in the United States. More specifically, 14 percent said reducing regulations would help create the most jobs – twice as many as answered the same way two years ago.

“Small business owners seem to feel government regulations are making their difficult operating environment even more challenging,” Jacobe wrote.

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