Florida Chamber survey shows state’s small businesses are feeling optimistic about the economy

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As Florida’s economy continues to recover, small businesses are becoming less concerned with adverse economic conditions and more concerned about obtaining financing. According to the most recent Florida Chamber of Commerce Small Business Index Survey, 25 percent of respondents stated access to capital as the single most important issue facing their businesses today. Economic uncertainty followed a close second, with 22 percent citing it as the most important issue. 

“Small businesses play a vital role in Florida’s economy, and monitoring the health of this important economic engine helps us know if our state is moving in the right direction,” said Brad Swanson, Vice President of Corporate and Strategic Partnerships. “It’s encouraging to see Florida job creators beginning to feel a bit more optimistic about the economy, but the tight credit market is preventing many from taking full advantage of these improving conditions.” 

Over one-third of respondents (36%) said they were not able to obtain financing in the past six months, and 40 percent of small business owners said they expected financing to be more difficult to obtain in the near future. Both figures are at least 10 percent higher than last quarter’s survey results, which indicate more small business owners are in the market to obtain financing, presumably for business expansion due to an improving economy, and more small business owners are being turned down. 

According to the survey, 42 percent of small businesses believe they are better off today than six months ago – up from 36 percent in April 2013. Regarding hiring, 28 percent of employers plan to hire employees during the next six months – down from 32 percent in April. 

Regarding sales, 35 percent are reporting higher sales compared to the same period last year, and 61 percent believe the economy will improve over the next year, while 72 percent believe it will improve over the next three years. 

Additional findings from the Florida Chamber’s Small Business Index Survey:

  •          Better Off: 42% believe their business is better off than six months ago – UP 6% from last quarter,
  •          Worse Off: 18% believe their business is worse off today than six months ago – DOWN 5% from April, 2013,
  •          Economic Outlook:

o   61% of small business owners expect the economy to improve during the next year, UP from 55% in April,

o   72% expect the economy to improve during the next three years, UP from 61% last quarter,

o   18% believe the economy will weaken over the next year and 18% expect the economy will weaken over the next three years, DOWN from 24% and 28% respectively in April,

o   51% expect company sales to increase over the next three months, and 69% expect their sales to increase over the next year – compared to only 12% and 10% expecting sales to decrease over each time period respectively.

  •          Hiring:

o   28% of employers plan to hire employees during the next six months – DOWN from 32% in April, 2013,

o   32% identified lack of sales as an obstacle preventing them from hiring while, 24% say economic uncertainty is keeping them from hiring new employees,

  •         Economic Uncertainty – Regulations: 63% are worried or very worried that regulations, restrictions and taxes will negatively impact their ability to do business compared to 35% who are not very worried or not worried at all. 

The Florida Chamber’s Small Business Index Survey was conducted electronically June 10, 2013, through July 5, 2013 and received 730 unique responses.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.