Small-Business Owners Say Experience Trumps Education: Manta

Just 21 percent of small-business owners said a college education was extremely important and a necessity to success in the working world.

Half of small- and midsize-business (SMB) owners say they employ staff without a college degree, and more than 60 percent notice no difference in performance among staff with varying education levels, according to a survey of nearly 1,000 SMB owners by online small business support community Manta.

However, small-business owners themselves are an educated group. Nearly 70 percent of those polled have a bachelor's degree and more than six in 10 felt a college education was important to their business success.

Results also suggested that while major companies such as Google are relying less on college transcripts and choosing to look for candidates with real-world experience, small-business owners have already adopted this hiring strategy, with just 21 percent saying a college education was extremely important and a necessity to success in the working world.

"I've learned that you can't teach someone how to work hard," Gary Wheeler, owner of The Virtual HR Director, a company that provides HR services for small business owners and non-profit organizations, said in a statement. "While I value higher education, I know it's only part of what makes someone a strong addition to my team. I focus on hiring people that understand my vision for the company, have the desire to be challenged and the experience and drive to contribute to its overall success."

Beyond education, small business owners say a strong business plan is critical to setting their company on the right course. More than one-third rank the business plan as the No. 1 consideration when starting a business, above capital, networking and mentorship.

"From developing a business plan to understanding how to identify the right employees that will contribute to their success, small-business owners have limited resources to help them lay the foundation that sets their company on the right path," Kristy Campbell, director of marketing at Manta, said in a statement.

As part of the study, Manta released its quarterly findings of small business activity. The study showed small businesses are still slow to hire, but their outlook is improving. Nearly one in four added staff in the second quarter, an increase of 5 percent over the previous quarter.

The results also indicated the businesses will continue to hire, albeit slowly, with more than one-quarter (28 percent) saying they will hire in in the third quarter. Overall, more than half (55 percent) of small-business owners say the second quarter was successful for their business, consistent with last quarter's findings. More than three-quarters (78 percent) said they are optimistic about their business prospects in the third quarter of 2013.

A recent report from the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB), however, suggested uncertainty about the future remains endemic among job creators, with only 9 percent of small businesses feeling that now is a good time to expand their businesses. Last month was also another slow month for jobs among NFIB’s 350,000 owners, with the average increase in employment coming in at a negative 0.11 workers per firm, the third negative monthly reading in a row.