More than One-Third of Small Businesses Are Understaffed, But Fewer Plan to Hire in Upcoming Months: TD Bank Survey

Small business owners also cite finding qualified job candidates, declining sales as their biggest challenges

Jul 30, 2012, 10:26 ET from TD Bank

CHERRY HILL, N.J., and PORTLAND, Maine, July 30, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Despite more than one-third of polled small business owners reporting that they are somewhat or significantly understaffed, most don't plan to hire in the upcoming months, according to a new survey by TD Bank, America's Most Convenient Bank®.

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Economic Confidence Affecting Hiring

TD Bank's survey – which polled more than 500 small business owners across the bank's Maine to Florida footprint – found that although 35% of surveyed small businesses report being somewhat or significantly understaffed, only 21% plan to hire one or more employees in the upcoming months. A majority (70%) plan to maintain their current employee levels.

"Our survey results indicated that over half (51%) of polled small business owners are not optimistic about the U.S. economy," said Fred Graziano, Head of Regional Commercial Banking, Government Banking and Small Business, TD Bank. "According to our partners at TD Economics, uncertainty about the future path of fiscal policy and the outlook for the global economy will keep businesses cautious about investing and hiring in the upcoming months. However, for businesses that are looking to grow for the long term, it's a great time to take advantage of the low interest rate environment."

Biggest Challenges: Finding Qualified Employees and Declining Sales

The survey asked small business owners to identify their biggest human resources challenges. According to the results, when small businesses are in a position to hire, they struggle to find qualified candidates to fill open positions.

The biggest challenges in employee management include:

  • Finding new qualified candidates (42%)
  • Training existing employees (23%)
  • Offering competitive compensation (22%)
  • Laying off inadequate employees (8%)
  • Continuous employee turnover (5%)

TD Bank's survey also asked small business owners to identify their biggest challenge in the next six months. Declining sales (29%) topped the list, followed closely by rising healthcare and insurance costs (27%) and cash flow concerns (23%). The other challenges were pressure from larger competitors (12%) and rising energy costs (10%).

"Identifying creative ways to boost sales revenue while keeping an eye on expense growth and cash flow is a good strategy to follow for managing a business in this current economy," said Graziano. "That's why it's important to lead a strong and innovative team of employees that positively contribute to a business' goals and objectives."

Defining Success as a Small Business Owner

According to the survey, there are different opinions when it comes to best defining success as a small business owner. Doing something they enjoy (24%) and having a stable work/life balance (23%) were the top responses, followed by being one's own boss and earning enough money to live a comfortable lifestyle (17% each). The remaining responses were continuous increases in business profitability (10%) and creating jobs in the local community (9%).

"Entrepreneurship helps people fulfill their dreams of turning a creative idea or passion into a successful business, regardless of how they best define it," said Graziano. "Whether it's applying for financing or opening one of our new small business checking accounts, TD Bank's team of small business lenders and bankers are here to provide professional advice and legendary customer service."

TD Bank is also using social media to educate and converse with small business owners with the creation of informative videos about small business banking on YouTube ( and live weekly Twitterviews (Q&A). Each Friday, Small Business Banking experts will be available for live #smallbizfridays on Twitter @TDBank_US ( to answer questions and share tips and advice.

About TD Bank's Survey

TD Bank polled more than 500 small business owners within its Maine to Florida footprint to understand their companies' thoughts on the economy, employee levels and hiring plans, top challenges and how they best define success. The research was conducted in June 2012 by ORC International, and surveyed companies over the telephone with annual sales of no more than $5 million.

About TD Bank, America's Most Convenient Bank

TD Bank, America's Most Convenient Bank, is one of the 10 largest banks in the U.S., providing more than 8 million customers with a full range of retail, small business and commercial banking products and services at more than 1,280 convenient locations throughout the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Metro D.C., the Carolinas and Florida. In addition, TD Bank and its subsidiaries offer customized wealth management services through TD Wealth, and insurance products and services through TD Insurance, Inc. TD Bank is headquartered in Cherry Hill, N.J., and Portland, Maine. To learn more, find TD Bank on Facebook at, on Twitter at, or visit

TD Bank, America's Most Convenient Bank, is a member of TD Bank Group and a subsidiary of The Toronto-Dominion Bank of Toronto, Canada, a top 10 financial services company in North America and one of the few banks in the world rated Aaa by Moody's. The Toronto-Dominion Bank trades on the New York and Toronto stock exchanges under the ticker symbol "TD." To learn more, visit