Florida SBDC Network Releases Inaugural Small Business Survey Results

Small businesses report increased performance and outlook, cite economic uncertainty top issue

Florida SBDC Network Headquarters (Pensacola, Fla.) – The Florida SBDC Network, the state’s principal provider of business assistance, today released the results of the inaugural Florida Small Business Confidence Index.

The key findings from the survey, administered to a select group of small businesses who utilized the services of the Florida SBDC in 2015, suggest that the state’s small businesses are experiencing increased optimism and performance, yet still are facing a host of challenges, including economic uncertainty and finding quality applicants.

Michael Myhre, CEO and Network State Director of the Florida SBDC, highlighted the importance of the findings, saying, “Previous research has revealed access to capital as the top issue for Florida’s small businesses. As a network, we have focused efforts to ensure that small businesses have the resources and expertise to access the capital they need to grow and succeed. This study confirms progress has been made on this front, but it also shows that we can expand economic progress by ensuring more entrepreneurs and small businesses have the confidence to make major hiring and investment decisions.”

Economic concerns continue

The results suggest that economic uncertainty continues to loom as an important issue facing small businesses, with only half of respondents indicating that Florida’s economy will grow over the next year (51 percent agree or strongly agree). When asked what the top issues facing Florida’s small businesses today, about a third indicated economic uncertainty, 20 percent identified workforce quality, and 17 percent expressed concern over access to capital.

Finding quality applicants ranks high as top hiring concern

On the topic of hiring obstacles, finding quality applicants was the top concern (32 percent). Businesses cited a mix of absent soft and hard skills, excessive pay expectations, inexperience, and a small applicant pool.

Optimistic business outlook

Despite economic concerns, 56 percent of small businesses reported increased sales and a large majority (86 percent) indicated they expected sales to increase over the next year. Interestingly, the survey results suggest that Florida businesses are more likely to report future hiring plans than those nationally. Fifty-two percent of respondents indicated they anticipate hiring additional employees over the next year compared to 12 percent nationally as reported in the May National Federation of Independent Business Small Business Economic Trends report.

The inaugural Florida Small Business Confidence Index was conducted electronically by the Florida SBDC Network, in partnership with University of West Florida College of Business researchers Drs. Justin L. Davis, associate professor for the UWF Department of Management and Management Information Systems, and Richard R. Hawkins, professor for the UWF Department of Marketing and Economics.

The survey was conducted July through August 2016. The survey will be administered quarterly to understand entrepreneurial attitudes to the state’s business climate to improve Florida SBDC service delivery.

For a complete, in-depth look at the inaugural insights of Florida’ small business owners, read the full report here.