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Small Business Confidence Remains Low

Posted by: John Tozzi on October 24, 2011

Small business owners’ outlook hasn’t changed much since three months ago, and business owners express about the same level of confidence as they did at the end of the recession more than two years ago, according to the latest quarterly survey by Wells Fargo and Gallup. The poll of 604 business owners in early October showed a small slip in overall confidence, though it was not statistically significant.

Here’s what the index looks like since the official end of the recession:

Wells Fargo-GallupOct24.jpg

The monthly survey from the National Federation of Independent Business shows a similar pattern:

NFIB Oct24.jpg

In both cases, business owners’ post-recession confidence peaked early this year. We probably shouldn’t read too much into these surveys (one theory is that they broadly track the stock market, and the mid-year slide would be consistent with that). Still, they offer some indication of how business owners feel about the economy and their own companies’ prospects.

In the Wells Fargo/Gallup survey, more respondents thought credit would be difficult to get in the year ahead (43 percent, up 6 percentage points from the last quarter). The greatest number (22 percent) cited government regulations and taxes as their biggest problem. And more than a quarter said that the prime reason they would hire new employees is when sales increase.

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What's it like to run your own company today? Entrepreneurs face multiple hurdles new and old, from raising capital and managing employees to keeping up with technology and competing in a global marketplace. In this blog, the Small Business channel's John Tozzi and Nick Leiber discuss the news, trends, and ideas that matter to small business owners. Follow them on Twitter @newentrepreneur.

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