May 30--Small business owners' view of the economy may have improved in 2012, but 71 percent still believe the United States economy is in a recession, according to results of the 2012 U.S. Bank Small Business Annual Survey released Wednesday.
The survey found more small business owners consider the financial health of their company as "good" to "excellent." Sales volatility is less of a concern now than in years past, and the No. 1 business issue on their minds in the 2012 election is healthcare reform, the Minneapolis-based bank said.
Now in its third year, the U.S. Bank Small Business Annual Survey polled 3,220 small business owners with $10 million or less in annual revenues. Owners were surveyed between March and April in the 25 states where U.S. Bank provides small business banking services, primarily in the Midwest and West. The questions centered on economic conditions, business conditions, business challenges, 2012 election issues, work/life balance and banking relationships.
"Small business owners are creating ways to succeed, despite lingering concerns about the economy," said Rick Hartnack, vice chairman of consumer and small business banking at U.S. Bank. "Business is rebounding, especially among businesses with at least $1 million in annual sales and five or more employees. For those businesses, prospects for growth are particularly strong, as are their plans to hire."
-- Overall, 69 percent of respondents said the financial health of their business was "good," "very good" or "excellent," up from 64 percent in 2011. This year, 29 percent said they saw revenue increase over last year, which is up slightly from 26 percent in 2011. Less than half expect to see revenue improve next year, however the numbers jump among businesses with at least $1 million in annual sales. For these larger businesses, 40 percent saw an increase in sales over 2011, 58 percent expect revenue to grow next year and 34 percent say they plan to hire in the next 12 months.
-- "Economic uncertainty" remains the No. 1 concern cited among respondents, however "poor sales" -- the second-biggest challenge for the past two years -- is less of a concern in 2012 with only 12 percent citing sales as a challenge. Healthcare reform is a growing concern, with 60 percent saying they believe it will negatively impact their business, up from 57 percent in 2011 and 55 percent in 2010. States where small business owners are less concerned about healthcare reform than the national average include Washington, Oregon, California and Illinois.
-- Small business owners say their work/life balance is mostly unchanged over 2011. A majority say they are always on the go. Slightly more than half say they can take time off whenever they want and plan to take at least two weeks of vacation this year. One change since 2011 -- more owners in 2012 said their business is their life and their life is their business -- up from 34 percent in 2011 to 45 percent in 2012.
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