The 2018 Small Business Friendliness Survey, sponsored by Thumbtack, an online local services company, surveyed 7,629 small business owners across the country to determine their thoughts on state and local public policies that may affect the start-up and growth of a small business. Thumbtack asked entrepreneurs in 247 occupations/industries and in all 50 states to respond to the survey. Small business owners from contractors to lawyers, personal trainers, and caterers — and many more — responded. This is the seventh year Thumbtack spearheaded this particular survey, making it the most expansive continuous study of business perceptions of government policy, according to Thumbtack. Following is an overview of the 2018 Small Business Friendliness Survey by Thumbtack; read the full report here.
After compiling the data, Thumbtack determined four main priorities of the respondents:
#1 Small Businesses Deserve a Bigger Spotlight. Overall, small business owners believe that the government determines policy based on how it will affect corporations and big businesses. The reality is, however, that small business truly stimulates the economy. At Imperial Advance, we invest in small businesses 24/7 with an impressive array of small business lending solutions, including business term loans, merchant cash advances,revenue-based financing and lines of credit. Almost 70 percent of respondents believe that their local government is more interested in big corporations versus supporting local small businesses. For example, small business owners say that they become concerned when their state gives corporations tax breaks or adjusts the tax code in favor of big organizations. These policies make small business owners feel as if their concerns for their own small companies are not relevant to state policymakers. One concrete example of this mentioned in the study is those entrepreneurs who live in a city that was named an Amazon HQ2 finalist; these small business owners were nine percent more likely to agree that their local governments care more about big corporations than small businesses.
#2 Health Care is Still a Big Financial Deal. This priority hasn’t changed much since Thumbtack initiated the survey. Small business owners strive to find affordable health care insurance options, and the costs of health care may even make or break a business’ viability. In fact, entrepreneurs surveyed by Thumbtack state that one priority for them is to find ways to lower their monthly health insurance premium cost without sacrificing any aspect of an insurance plan. Small business owners stated that they wish politicians would spend less time debating the issue and more time solving it. Additionally, 25 percent of respondents say that their decision to start a small business was affected by their accessibility to health insurance.
#3 Local Issues Matter. Anything happening within an entrepreneurs local economy has an effect on their small business. For example, small business owners state that the increase in housing prices and an uptick in transportation costs affect their ability to do business and live within the same community. These entrepreneurs may also face an issue with traveling to where their customers are due to rising transportation costs. In fact, over 40 percent of respondents said that they travel in excess of 30 minutes to get to their workplace; many of them also state that if local governments invested in proper housing and transportation, small business owners would benefit from shortened travel times. Due to the high housing prices, small business owners are forced to live far away from their place of business (typically in an urban setting) in order to afford a home and own a small business.
#4 Training for the Future is Key. Small business owners recognize that they must stay on top of technology trends, and engage themselves and their employees in the necessary training to understand how to best use these technologies. In fact, 18 percent of respondents stated that expanding training and educational programming is their main issue locally. Despite a high demand, local governments are not doing much to prioritize training, skill development, or networking programs, according to survey respondents. A mere 22 percent stated that they had engaged in these types of programs, while 53 percent said that they don’t even know of any local training programs that could provide them with essential business skills.
The key takeaway from the Small Business Friendliness Survey is the urgent need for the voice of small business owners to be heard by their local governments. When policies are enacted to benefit the community at a local level, there lies an opportunity for the entire community to thrive and grow.