COLUMBUS, Ohio, Jan. 5, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- This could be a landmark year in American politics, and entrepreneurs are looking to the future with a watchful eye. Though focused mainly on run-of-the mill business issues in 2015, small business owners are watching what recent political rumblings will mean for business this year. To gauge the small business landscape, Manta's Semi-Annual Wellness Index asked small business owners to evaluate their businesses and share what issues they expect to cause concern in 2016.
The top concerns hindering small business owners at the end of 2015 were longstanding business issues such as lack of capital (29 percent), competition (17 percent), lack of good employees (16 percent), and taxes (13 percent). It seemed that to small business owners, public debate around minimum wage increases and healthcare reform was overblown. In fact, small business owners listed cost of healthcare (6 percent), lack of government support (6 percent), and rise in minimum wage (2 percent) at the bottom of their list of concerns in 2015.
So What Issues Are Small Business Owners Monitoring in 2016?
Though they weren't fearful about breaking news and regulatory changes in 2015, small business owners will definitely be keeping an eye on these trends as we move further into 2016. When asked which current issues could hinder their growth in 2016, an unstable global economy topped the list at 29 percent, followed by quality of partnerships and vendors (25 percent), healthcare costs (22 percent), presidential election results (12 percent), and rising minimum wage (11 percent). It's evident that when the time comes, entrepreneurs will be prepared for – if not aware of – the impact these hot topics could have on their businesses.
Calling All Government Leaders
As the ground shifts beneath them, small business owners will look to their communities to help address their concerns and navigate the shifting small business landscape. Local government leaders should be prepared to help entrepreneurs in their communities understand regulatory changes in 2016. According to Manta's Wellness Index, small business owners will look to their local governments for support across five issues:
- Tax law changes
- Understanding of small business challenges and development
- Leaders who promote the importance of small businesses
- Programs that connect small businesses with quality partners
- Improved funding/financing programs
"This year will bring major changes at the federal and state levels. Small business owners especially must be cognizant of what's going on within their industries and adjust accordingly," said Manta CEO John Swanciger. "Entrepreneurs are dealing with the moving parts that come with running a business. They're trying to figure out where they should focus in 2016, and they're looking to their communities for help."
For Small Business Owners, The Future is Bright
Entrepreneurs surveyed in Manta's Wellness Index felt slightly less successful in the second half of 2015 compared to the first half (69 percent vs. 71 percent); however, their business optimism and plans for hiring in the New Year paint a slightly different story. In fact, 83 percent of respondents are optimistic about business prospects in 2016, up slightly from 82 percent in 2015. And on the hiring front, 39 percent of respondents plan to hire in the first half of 2016, up from the 35 percent that hired in the latter half of 2015.
"We are optimistic that 2016 will be a banner year for us as we move to add additional offerings to our roster, including coaching services. Manta's online marketing will be at the forefront of our efforts to reach new [prospects]," said Sally Hirsh, CEO of Alternatives Financial Services, LLC, which provides financial fiduciary services to at-risk adults as well as consultation and coaching for family members. "We are looking forward to 2016 and plan to launch education and support materials for family fiduciaries as well as a coaching program to support them," added Hirsh.
Tips for Achieving the Best 2016
- Hire Smart: Sixteen percent of entrepreneurs found that the lack of good employees hindered business performance in 2015 – a number that is not to be overlooked. For job applicants, looking good on paper is the easy part; small business owners should meet face-to-face with potential candidates and evaluate them as much on their personality as their skill and experience to ensure they fit with company culture. As we move into 2016, small business owners should focus efforts on finding the right fit for long-term business plans – not just the applicant that fits in the moment.
- Strive to Grow: Only half of entrepreneurs surveyed had any type of marketing plan, business plan, or growth plans for their businesses. One of the top reasons to write a business plan is to highlight business essentials and determine the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. What are you going to provide and to whom? How are you going to provide it to them? How are you going to make your business stand out from the competition? By devoting time and energy to strategic initiatives upfront, small business owners will reap the benefits of having a well-structured, well-researched business plan.
- Lean on Your Community: Manta's Wellness Index found only 10 percent of small business owners blame government regulation as the reason businesses fail, and just 4 percent think lack of government support leads to the demise of small businesses. In 2016, government leaders must make an effort to establish themselves as active advocates for small business.
Manta empowers small business owners to succeed on their own terms by helping them stand out, connect with customers and grow their companies. Our solutions include a small business directory with millions of unique monthly visitors, valuable content and a suite of products to manage critical business needs. We strive to inform and inspire through learning opportunities, proprietary research, and a robust online community for dialogue and collaboration. Thousands of business owners join Manta each month. Visit manta.com to learn why.
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