Although 35 percent of small-business owners say they are somewhat or significantly understaffed, 70 percent have no intentions of hiring in the near future, according to a new survey by TD Bank.
"Our survey results indicated that over half (51 percent) of polled small-business owners are not optimistic about the U.S. economy," says Fred Graziano, head of regional commercial banking, government banking and small business at 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."
Among the biggest human resources challenges for respondents are finding qualified candidates at 42 percent, training current employees at 23 percent, offering competitive compensation at 22 percent, laying off inadequate employees at 8 percent and sustained employee turnover at 5 percent.
Of the top business challenges for respondents in the next six months are falling sales at 29 percent, rising health care and insurance costs at 27 percent, cash flow concerns at 23 percent, pressure from larger competitors at 12 percent and increasing energy costs at 10 percent.
"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," Graziano says. "That's why it's important to lead a strong and innovative team of employees that positively contribute to a business' goals and objectives."
Respondents say they best define success as a small business owner by participating in activities they enjoy at 24 percent and attaining a stable work-life balance at 23 percent. Both by being one's own boss and living a comfortable lifestyle comes in at 17 percent while other success factors are increases in business profitability at 10 percent and creating jobs in the local community at 9 percent.