Last week the New York Times Economix blog highlighted a portion of the National Federation for Independent Business’s “Small Business Economic Trends” the single most important problem faced by small businesses today and how the largest issue has changed over time.While respondents to the survey have consistently cited taxes as a primary issue (between 15% and 25% over the last 25 years), today 31% of small businesses have deemed poor sales as the single most important problem. Lack of demand has traditionally been identified as the primary problem by many businesses during recessions, rising during both the early 1990s and the early 2000s, but even then it barely broke above 20%.
While poor sales are a large issue at many small businesses, very few companies are citing the cost or quality of labor as their largest issue. While cost of labor has not typically been a primary problem, today quality of labor is also not being cited as the single biggest problem by many. Today only 4% of small firms list quality of labor as their largest issue. With an elevated unemployment level the large pool of people seeking employment has allowed many businesses to be more selective in hiring.