Only 15 percent of respondents expect the number of jobs to increase at their companies over the next 12 months.
In the latest Wells
Fargo/Gallup Small-Business Index, business owners (surveyed Oct. 3 to 6) generated
an optimism Index score of -3, a slight change from the previous two Index
readings of 0 (neither optimistic nor pessimistic). The future expectations
component of the Index has been dropping since the first quarter of 2011 and
now sits at 8 (down from 10 in Q3 2011), according to the report.
The future expectations
component of the Index has fallen 14 points since the first quarter of 2011,
when the Index peaked during the current economic recovery. The drop this
quarter was primarily driven by a decline in expectations for increased
revenues (37 percent, down from 42 percent in Q3) and an increase in the
percentage of business owners saying it will be difficult to obtain credit in
the next 12 months (43 percent, up from 37 percent in Q3).
are still navigating this challenging economy," said Doug Case, Wells
Fargo small-business segment manager. "In our latest survey, small-business
owners said that to thrive in today's economy, they need: increased sales and
demand, job creation and fewer government regulations. While we can't change
the economic environment, we are working diligently to understand what our
business customers need and provide them with solutions that help them move
Business owners were asked
about the most important problems facing their businesses today. The top three
responses were complying with government regulations/taxes (22 percent),
consumer confidence in the economy (15 percent) and depressed consumer
spending/lack of customer demand (12 percent).
On the jobs front, only 15
percent of respondents said they expect the number of jobs to increase at their
companies over the next 12 months, while 13 percent said they expect a
decrease. When asked what would lead them to hire in 2012, business owners said
when revenue or sales have increased (27 percent), when the economy improves
(20 percent) and if they need to support growth or expansion plans (17
Robert Lennon, president and
CEO of SanDirect, a global data storage company, has added two new employees
this year but when asked about growth, he said they anticipate continued
growth, but are proceeding with caution. "Revenue increases will justify
expanding our work force," said Lennon. "Ideally, I'd like to add up
to six more employees in 2012, but I'm hesitant to assume that risk until we
see concrete evidence of a market upswing."
Nathan Eddy is Associate Editor, Midmarket, at eWEEK.com. Before joining eWEEK.com, Nate was a writer with ChannelWeb and he served as an editor at FierceMarkets. He is a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.