It’s been a whirlwind year for small businesses. From sequestrations to government shutdowns to Obamacare, there was hardly a dull moment. However, small business owners report they experienced growth that met or exceeded their expectations in 2013, and 80 percent are confident that 2014 will be even better.
Twice a year, we ask hundreds of small business owners about their topic concerns, priorities and hopes. Our infographic sums up what nearly 1,000 of them had to say:
A Cautious Optimism
While the majority of small business owners believe their enterprise will grow in the new year, 50 percent say economic uncertainty continues to give them pause, and 30 percent say the health of the economy as a whole is a significant worry.
Opportunities in Tech & Healthcare
With 2013 ringing in a record-breaking number of technology IPOs, along with the introduction of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) bringing healthcare issues to the forefront, it is unsurprising that small business owners say the technology industry (36 percent) and healthcare industry (27 percent) have the most opportunity ahead. Other sectors noted in the survey include food/hospitality (9 percent), retail (5 percent), education (5 percent) and legal (3 percent).
Marketing & Branding Are Top Priorities
Looking toward the new year, small business owners say they view marketing and branding initiatives as the top priority, trumping raising funds, developing new products or services, hiring or international expansion. More than 40 percent of respondents say they are focused on increasing marketing presence, while more than a quarter claim raising funds as a primary concern. Only 13 percent are concentrating on developing new products or services, 6 percent are focusing on hiring and 2 percent are prioritizing international expansion.
An overwhelming majority (75 percent) of small business owners say the ACA did not have a significant effect on hiring. Less than half (45 percent) say they are not enrolling in ACA in the next year or two. Of those who are not participating, 40 percent said it was because they have less than 50 employees and 30 percent said they were already satisfied with their current plan.
Get Ready For Help Wanted
More than one third (37 percent) of small businesses plan on hiring additional employees in the next six months, according to the survey. Of those planning on hiring new employees, nearly half say they will hire full-time employees, while 40 percent say they will hire part-time employees. Sadly, more than half of these employees will be hired as independent contractors — reflecting the rise of the temp economy.
Gov Compliance is Main Legal Need
Half of small businesses say they consulted with an attorney this year, with more than one quarter of small businesses claiming complying with government regulations was a top legal concern (26 percent). Other legal concerns span debt collection (17 percent), lawsuits (16 percent), incorporation (15 percent), trademark or patent issues (7 percent), theft or fraud (6 percent) or other (13 percent).
Best Place to Start a Biz Not Where You’d Expect
When asked what city is the best place to start a business, respondents were given options including San Francisco, Minneapolis, New York, Seattle, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Boston and Chicago. A surprising majority (63 percent) said smaller cities are better for small business.