Small-business owners were less optimistic in August than in February that the nation's economy will strengthen this year, according to a survey by The Hartford Financial Services Group.
One third, 33 percent, of small-business owners surveyed in August were optimistic that the national economy will improve this year, compared with 61 percent who were optimistic in February.
Optimism about the economy waned between the winter and summer, but 68 percent of the business owners surveyed in August said they are "moderately or extremely successful." The perception of success may be an attribute of small-business owners, one Hartford executive said.
"We're talking about entrepreneurs," said Raymond Sprague, senior vice president of Small Commercial at The Hartford. "We're talking about people who are following their passion. And, that optimism they see, is focused on their ability to deal."
The Hartford is one of the nation's major property-casualty insurers for businesses, and it has conducted surveys of small business owners in the summer of 2011, February 2012 and August 2012.
With just weeks before the presidential election, the economy and success of small businesses remains a critical issue for both candidates. The Hartford's survey was conducted by Braun Research from Aug. 2 to Aug. 14, and it involved calling 2,004 small-business owners across the nation who have fewer than 100 workers and annual revenue of at least $100,000. Results were released this week.
Some highlights from the results:
77 percent believe it is likely their taxes will increase, and two-thirds of business owners said they would offset the impact of higher taxes by passing along the cost to customers while 54 percent said they would defray the cost of higher taxes by not hiring additional workers.
59 percent have not hired in the previous 12 months, and two-thirds did not plan on hiring in the coming 12 months.
When small business owners were asked what success means to them in the summer surveys of 2011 and 2012, the results were similar for questions about: profitability of the business, the ability to work at something they are passionate about, and having the free time to do what they like.
The one factor that changed whether making "a lot of money" was a mark of success. Last year, 46 percent of those surveyed said making a lot of money defined success and that increased to 59 percent this year.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times