Health Care Costs, Lack of Capital Worry Small Businesses

When asked which current issues could hinder their growth in 2016, an unstable global economy topped the list at 29 percent, according to Manta.

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The top concerns hindering small business owners at the end of 2015 were longstanding business issues such as lack of capital (29 percent), competition (17 percent), lack of good employees (16 percent), and taxes (13 percent), according to a survey of small business-owners by Manta.

Though they weren't fearful about breaking news and regulatory changes in 2015, small business owners will be keeping an eye on these trends as they move further into 2016.

When asked which current issues could hinder their growth in 2016, an unstable global economy topped the list at 29 percent, followed by quality of partnerships and vendors (25 percent), healthcare costs (22 percent), presidential election results (12 percent), and rising minimum wage (11 percent).

"Talk about rising health care costs has dominated the news of late. However, January marks the start of a new Affordable Care Act mandate requiring companies with 50 or more full-time employees to offer health insurance," John Swanciger, CEO of Manta, told eWEEK.

He noted last year, ACA took effect for businesses with 100 or more workers, but companies with 50 to 99 got some extra time to comply.

"While businesses with fewer than 50 workers are still exempt, the new mandate affects a significant portion of the small business community," he said. "Given that the law requires employers to bear some of the provider costs, many business owners have naturally spent time preparing for these changes, and evaluating how the new mandate will affect their profits and growth plans."

According to the survey, most of the small business owners surveyed (83 percent) expected to grow in 2016, and 39 percent said they had plans to hire in the first half of 2016, indicating they'll be looking for talent that can grow into higher-level jobs down the line.

"Though the job market might look underwhelming at first glance, business owners are optimistic about business prospects this year, which is a great sign for job seekers," Swanciger said. "To compete for talent, a flexible work-from-home policy, free snacks, a casual attire dress code, or a pet-friendly office are non-monetary incentives that could attract great employees."

Swanciger noted it was shocking to learn that only about half of small business owners have any sort of business, marketing, or growth plan.

"These documents act as a blueprint for business performance and clearly outline strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats," he said. "By devoting time and energy to these initiatives upfront, small business owners can reap the benefits of a well-structured, well-researched strategic plan, which can make a significant difference in a company's success."