Cost-Conscious Businesses Question Access to Credit, Survey Finds

As budget-conscious companies enter 2010, they remain worried about access to credit, hiring talent and health care costs, a survey sponsored by CareerBuilder finds.

A survey by Harris Interactive on behalf of human capital solutions company CareerBuilder reveals that 34 percent of small businesses (organizations with 500 employees or less) do not think or are unsure if their companies will be able to access the credit needed in 2010. The survey also found 15 percent of small businesses said that an inability to access credit this year would prevent them from adding headcount. The survey was conducted between November 5 and November 23, 2009, among more than 1,450 small businesses.

Survey results provide evidence that as the economy faltered and credit was more difficult to obtain in 2009, small businesses faced difficult challenges. Seventeen percent of small businesses reported they were unable to access the credit needed to support their businesses in 2009, while more than one-quarter (26 percent) of those companies who could not obtain credit were unable to add employees. On a positive note, of those companies who were able to access credit last year, 73 percent were able to hire new employees.

Brent Rasmussen, president of CareerBuilder North America, said while small businesses were hit hard during this recession and are wary about credit access issues in 2010, they will play a vital role as the economy bounces back. "After past recessions, small businesses re-energized the economy by driving innovation and putting people back to work," he said. "The majority of small businesses we talked to say they are confident they will not lose their businesses in 2010, and many are hopeful that they will be able to add staff to support their bottom lines and remain competitive."

While small businesses are cautiously optimistic as they begin the new year, they are still preparing to face some hurdles. When asked what their organization's top challenges would be for 2010, 42 percent of small businesses surveyed selected the cost of health care, 26 percent said marketing expenses and building awareness, 22 percent said attracting and hiring top talent, 21 percent said government regulations and 11 percent said gaining access to credit.

If a recent survey by IBM is any indication, small businesses may want to invest in their Web presence in order to boost their business. A survey of 32,000 consumers found technology is giving shoppers a new source of power -- pushing retailers to engage them more directly via increased use of personalized promotions and offerings. The study also revealed that while shoppers are showing increased demand for multiple technology channels, they want to use different technologies for different activities. For instance, 79 percent want to use Websites to access and print coupons, 75 percent want to use mobile phones to find out where the nearest store is located and 66 percent want to see what goods are in stock before going into the store.