Small Business Owners Facing More Challenges These Days

The national financial situation is still very much in flux, and that uncertainty is weighing heavily on many aspects of small business owners' plans for their companies going forward. Everything from the economy and hiring to available credit and the ways in which they must attract top workers are currently issues.

Currently, three out of four small business owners say their biggest economic concerns revolve around the effectiveness of leaders in the federal government, according to the Small Business Owner Report issued regularly by Bank of America. Almost as many worry about the prices of commodities, and about seven in 10 also say they see the recovery of consumer spending and health care costs as major factors as well.

In addition, half of all small business owners say that though they have lines of credit of some kind, they only use it in emergencies, the report said. Slightly less than a quarter of those polled say they're trying to pay down their balances so that they have more credit available to them in the future, and less than one in five say it's their companies' primary source of cash flow. On the other hand, close to four in five said that they were approved for credit in the previous two years or more, but less than half of respondents said that they thought today's lending requirements were appropriate (one in four) or not stringent enough (one in five).

When it comes to the ability to hire or retain top workers, 22 percent of those polled said that the most difficult aspect was finding people who had the necessary skills for their businesses, the report said. Another 19 percent each cited their ability to give competitive salaries and ensuring good work ethic were their biggest issues. Further, 18 percent felt that their ability to provide competitive healthcare and retirement benefits options were an issue, while another 12 percent wanted to add in further hiring perks, like bonuses, more flexible hours and child care.

These owners should also be vigilant about the prices they pay for small business insurance needs, including policies for workers' compensation and liability insurance. These costs could rise considerably as they try to expand their operations, and as such should be planned for as comprehensively as possible.