As the story goes, nearly 80 years ago on the Faroe Islands — a stark North Atlantic archipelago 200 miles off the coast of Scotland — a neurologic epidemic may have washed, or rather convoyed, ashore. Before 1940 the incidence of multiple sclerosis on the Faroes was near, if not actually, zero, according to the tantalizing lore I recall from medical school. Yet in the years following British occupation of the islands during World War II, the rate of MS rose dramatically, leading many researchers to assume the outbreak was caused by some unknown germ transmitted by the foreign soldiers……..
A recent survey of America’s small business owners suggests more than half or 53% count the cost of providing healthcare insurance for their employees as a key concern.
Worried About the Cost of Small Business Health Insurance
Healthcare costs eat up a huge chunk of the small business operation budget. According to the NFIB’s Index of Small Business Optimism, the biggest challenge for small business owners is healthcare. And the eHealth report, Small Business Health Insurance: Costs, Trends and Insights 2017 indicates close to 80% of small business owners worry about the cost.
While in most cases small business owners operate locally, developments outside their region and other macro trends may also have an impact. These issues include everything from higher healthcare costs to taxes and regulations which affect day to day operations.
In the press release announcing the SmallBiz Loans survey, company CEO Evan Singer points out how these trends affect owners. Singer explains, “The survey illustrates that small business owners are aware of macro trends that may impact their business. But their focus is instead on the day-to-day functions of running their company. And the great news is that the new tax plan is helping to drive immediate growth.”
The new tax plan is important to many small business owners too. According to the survey, 52% of respondents gave changes in the new tax law as a key business consideration. The new tax law has been cited by 35% of business owners as a driver for making changes in their operations, with 10% reporting they are making additional investments in new staff and equipment.
But challenges in recruiting talent also rate high. In this time of low unemployment, finding talent is becoming a big problem for businesses of all sizes. In the survey, 49% of business owners reported finding and hiring quality employees is a top concern. And when it comes to hiring new talent, for nine out of 10 of the respondents experience is more of a priority than education.
As it becomes harder to find qualified employees, 31% of respondents to the survey said they are willing to hire candidates with fewer qualifications and train them. At the same time, small businesses are providing more incentives, with 51% of owners offering flexible working arrangements and another 33% higher wages.
Regarding how small business owners feel about the economy, close to 57% of owners said they remain bullish, stating their outlook over the next 12 months was fairly positive or positive. And as some businesses look to grow, they will require funding.
Funding was another key issue touched upon. Securing this funding is getting easier according to 22% of respondents. But getting this capital has become more expensive, with 49% saying they agree or strongly agree the price of credit has gone up.
The survey was carried out from April 9 through April 17, 2018, with the participation of 289 small business owners across the United States. They were questioned on several subjects including financing, growth plans for the year, hiring, talent, and concern for their businesses.
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