2012 Small Business Outlook: Partly Cloudy

The Shafran Moltz Group conducted an annual small business survey of 5,000 business owners this past month. The outlook continues to be uncertain. Forty five percent of respondents thought the economy was finally steady and do not believe there will be a double dip recession. However, over one third still saw the outlook as more cloudy. They thought that the economy was basically stuck in neutral or GDP could even decrease this year.

2012 Small Business Outlook: Partly Cloudy

Health insurance continues to be the fastest increasing cost for small business owners. Even with impending new legislation, 69% of owners thought they would see premium increases from 5% to 20%. A quarter of the respondents predicted premium increases of 20% or higher.

No matter what President Obama says, 68% of the small business owners think that banks will stay missing in action for lending capital in 2012. This is a result of both the FDIC and the banks staying averse to risk. However, a quarter of the respondents did see light at the end of the tunnel and believe borrowing will increase this year.

Small business owners think that politics will dominate this election year. When asked, “Who is the best presidential candidate for small business,” owners were split between President Obama and the eventual Republican nominee. Surprisingly, 33% wished that Steve Jobs could take the job or someone else.

The most common concerns small businesses mentioned for the coming year were how the continued uncertainty in the economy and gridlock in Washington affects their own inability to make decisions. Added fears were how the euro crisis and lagging home prices will hurt the overall economy in the long run.

Editor’s note: The Shafran Moltz Group is the author’s company.


Barry Moltz Barry Moltz gets small business owners unstuck. With decades of entrepreneurial ventures as well as consulting with countless other entrepreneurs, he has discovered the formula to get business owners marching forward. His newest book, BAM! shows how in a social media world, customer service is the new marketing.

12 Reactions
  1. The results don’t really surprise me. Small business owners are very in-tune with the general economy and the uncertainty in the economy is mirrored in their opinions. However, SMB owners possess that rare gift, optimism, which allows them to succeed despite the uncertainty.

    • Sometimes, Robert, optimism is all that keeps us going! It’s truly a gift, because optimism can get us past the times when we may be feeling low and tempted to give up.

      I think many people don’t realize how much the owner’s emotions and mood can affect a small business or an entrepreneurial startup. It’s not like in a large corporation where you have this “thing” (the corporate machine) that exists of its own momentum. In a small business, the owner’s state of mind is often what drives the business forward — or not.

      – Anita

  2. Yes, we need to be optimistic despite the uncertainty.

  3. 2012 has been a shady year for many business. Like the e-commerce business comes like anything. Investors started funding but now it is in stagnant phase. It seems to be..

  4. We try to be optimistic, despite the incertainty!

  5. My outlook is that not much is going to happen until after the election. The US Government is on hold. After the election, it might still be on hold depending on the results. So far, the government seems to be essentially friendly to big business but not so friendly to small business. If that continues, look for small business to continue to struggle and big business to continue to embrace “crony capitalism”. Do what the Obama Administration wants and you will get favorable treatment, don’t do what they want and you will be punished. Welcome to Chicago on the Potomac.

  6. Here is a plain and simple fact. This week it cost $18 more to fill up a gas tank than last week and last week was $14 more than the week before. That’s $32 more per vehicle or an average of $192 per month per vehicle. Multiply that by five and my vehicle cost just went up $1,000 a month. And it will continue to rise. That combines with a 30% increase in health insurance and a fuel surcharge increase for shipping continues to eat away at profit and investment income. The fuel alone will account for one additional employee I was either going to hire or one I will have to let go. Additionally the increase cost of admin just to keep up with new business requirements such as the 1099 regulations is slowing our investments in growth. We now have 10 employees, up from 6 last year. I would like to add some new equipment and another employee but I am hesitant. We’ll probably add the new equipment and make do with the number of employees we have offering overtime to keep up with the hopefully increasing workflow. We have still grown from year to year with no help from banks or the government. The best thing any politician can do to spark business growth, grow the economy and increase employment is shut up and get the hell out of the way.

    In short it’s growing slowly but VERY VERY FRAGILE

  7. Spoken like the capitalist that I am too!