SOURCE: Manta

Manta

April 24, 2012 09:00 ET

Healthcare & Hiring Issues Hinder Small Business Momentum

Manta's Newest SMB Wellness Index Reveals New Business Activity in Decline

COLUMBUS, OH--(Marketwire - Apr 24, 2012) - Small business owners were planning to hire at this time last year, but the majority (80 percent) haven't hired a single employee the first three months of 2012.

In addition, the survey found that more than half of small businesses (53 percent) say they are not taking advantage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act healthcare tax credit, which became available in 2010 for small businesses with fewer than 25 full-time employees. In fact, education may be needed in the business community as one in three don't understand it.

Rising gas prices may be having a disproportionate impact on small businesses and creating the decrease in business activity. A significant majority of respondents (82 percent) say gas prices will negatively impact their business if they continue to rise -- 43 percent say gas prices have eaten into profits, 20 percent say they had to raise prices to cover those costs and 11 percent say gas prices impacted their ability to grow and hire. In addition, Manta's survey found nearly 60 percent of small businesses say access to credit and loans has been worse in 2012 compared to last year. Finally, nearly one-third say they owed more in taxes this year.

Other findings:

  • What Healthcare? Nearly one in four SMBs say they aren't sure how the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, has or will affect their business. Half say it hasn't impacted their company and 14 percent say it's had a negative impact.
  • Who's Hiring? Almost half of small businesses (45 percent) do not plan to hire more people this year than they did last year, but one third say it's too early to tell.
  • Not Quite an Economic Recovery: Close to half of small businesses (42 percent) feel the economy is not in recovery and 21 percent aren't sure.
  • Complicated Finances: More than four in 10 small business owners say taxes are more complicated for their company this year compared to previous years. Thirty-one percent say they owed more in taxes this year than last year.

According to the latest Manta SMB Wellness Index, new business activity fell 30 percent in the first quarter of 2012, compared to the same time last year. The index looks at multiple business resources nationwide and takes the "pulse" of small business owners on hot topics.

The Manta SMB Wellness Index also shows that while new business activity is down year over year, the fourth quarter of 2011 decreased even more -- 39 percent -- compared to the same time in 2010. While activity is down, small business owners aren't letting factors they can't control -- like the unstable economy or presidential election -- stand in the way of building their business in new ways.

"Small businesses are the lifeblood of the U.S. economy, and so far, 2012 has shown mixed results in terms of a rebound. As a result, small businesses are forced to grow in new ways," said Pamela Springer, president and CEO of Manta. "By leveraging innovative online tools, like Manta, SMBs are able to springboard their business across industries through referrals, connections and discussions with a community of their peers to help them focus on increasing their online presence and best practices for success."

Small business owners' use of Manta's new Connections and Recommendations tools have resulted in more than one million member-to-company connections, more than 40,000 Recommendations and more than 1,200 Recommendation Widgets installed on members' websites.

The findings are part of the Manta SMB Wellness Index, which is a quarterly index on the state of small business released by Manta, the largest online community dedicated entirely to small business. Manta's latest survey polled more than 1,100 small business owners about their opinions on the 2012 small business landscape and issues affecting their business like healthcare changes, access to credit and gas prices.

"Having used social media to initially launch my business, I understand the power of tools, like Manta, that help me grow my business online," said Michael Dorman, owner and president of Florida-based Sweet Tea Junkie, a company that sells sweet tea-themed apparel and home goods. "It is an interesting and often scary time to be a small business owner, but with the help of Manta's community, I've been able to generate referrals and connect with other small business owners to ensure that regardless of the environment, I'm doing things to grow and improve my business."

For more on the Manta Q4 2011/Q1 2012 SMB Wellness Index, please contact manta (at) bordersgratehouse (dot) com. To access the full survey results, go to http://www.manta.com/media/wellness_survey_042412.

About the Manta SMB Wellness Index
The Manta SMB Wellness Index is based on nationwide data compiled from new business licenses, DBA/corporate filings at city, county, and state levels, and is verified with multiple sources including utility information. Manta polled 1,107 small business owners, who are members of Manta.com and have claimed their Manta business profile, via an online Silverpop survey about their feelings on the 2012 small business landscape, including issues ranging from healthcare to gas prices to the Presidential election, between March 30 and April 6, 2012. The margin of error is +/- 2.98 percentage points.

About Manta
Manta helps small businesses profit, connect and grow through the largest online community dedicated entirely to small business. Millions of people come to Manta each day to buy from, partner with and connect to companies. By joining Manta, small businesses easily harness the power of the Internet. Get visible; grow your business for free at www.manta.com.

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