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Small business marred with hesitation

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  • | 7:18 a.m. January 22, 2013
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The presidential election was more than two months ago, but the uncertainty for small business owners hasn't receded.

That's the word from the Florida Chamber of Commerce's quarterly Small Business Index Survey. In fact, economic uncertainty and access to capital are the major obstacles that prevented small business growth for the third consecutive quarter, the survey reports.

“We must fight to make it easier for small business owners to obtain needed capital and financing,” says Florida Chamber Small Business Council Chairman John Medina in a release. “This will create economic stability and predictability, which will allow small businesses to grow and create jobs.”

The uncertainty manifests itself in several ways, according to the survey. For one, 83% of respondents weren't able to get the financing they needed, up from 78% in the October survey. Another sign of uncertainty, the survey reports, stems from regulations, where 60% of respondents are worried or very worried that regulations, restrictions and taxes will negatively impact their ability to do business.

More uncertainty: Less than one-third of employers, 29%, plan to hire in the next six months. That's down slightly from 31% in October. The survey also reports that the failure of the fiscal cliff deal to extend 2001 and 2003 tax cuts will cause 21% of small businesses to halt hiring plans. Another 44% are unsure of hiring plans in the wake of the fiscal cliff deal.

Some other findings of the survey, conducted electronically in December and comprised of 679 responses, are more optimistic. Those include:
• Nearly half the respondents, 49%, expect the economy to improve over the next six months. More than half, 60%, expect the economy to improve over the next three years;
• The percentage of small business owners who believe they are worse off today than six months ago has dropped, from 35% in October to 26% in the most recent survey. On the flip side, the percentage of respondents who believe their business is better off than six months ago is up, from 28% in October to 32% in December;
• More than half the respondents, 53%, expect sales to increase over the next three months, while 66% expect sales to increase over the next year.



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