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Summary of Findings NFIB and NAM Survey of 800 Small Business Owners, Manufacturers, and Owners
Summary of Findings
NFIB and NAM
Survey of 800 Small Business Owners, Manufacturers, and
Owners or C-Level Decision Makers
August 13-September 4, 2012
#12975
Glen Bolger, Partner
Bill McInturff, Partner
SEPTEMBER 2012
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Methodology On behalf of the National Federation of Independent Businesses and the National Association of
Methodology
On behalf of the National Federation of Independent
Businesses and the National Association of Manufacturers,
Public Opinion Strategies conducted a survey of 800 small
business owners and manufacturers, owners, or C-level
decision makers at companies with between 2 and 499
employees. Of the 800 interviews, 453 were conducted among
small business owners and 347 were conducted among
manufacturers and owners or C-level decision makers.
The interviews were conducted August 13-September 4, 2012.
Half were conducted by telephone and half on the internet.
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Bottom Line SEPTEMBER 2012
Bottom Line
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Bottom Line The data paints a bleak picture, with a majority of respondents saying in
Bottom Line
The data paints a bleak picture, with a
majority of respondents saying in the last
three years, the national economy is in a
worse position for American small
businesses and manufacturers.
There is limited evidence these
respondents see a respite in sight in terms
of economic improvement ahead.
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Bottom Line Two-thirds of these respondents say economic uncertainty in the market makes it hard
Bottom Line
Two-thirds of these respondents say
economic uncertainty in the market makes
it hard for them to grow and hire more
workers, for which they hold the Obama
Administration or Congress responsible.
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Bottom Line The theme of government being a barrier rather than a help is clear
Bottom Line
The theme of government being a barrier
rather than a help is clear throughout this
data.
Two of the three biggest challenges facing
small business owners and manufacturers
are government spending and federal,
state, and local taxes.
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Bottom Line Throughout the open-ends and the data, these respondents express significant concern that the
Bottom Line
Throughout the open-ends and the data,
these respondents express significant
concern that the government regulatory
environment is getting worse and is a
significant burden on their business.
The impact of the regulatory environment is
clear, as respondents express concern about
companies moving overseas, rising
consumer prices, and job loss.
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Bottom Line The frustration expressed in this survey can also be felt, as a majority
Bottom Line
The frustration expressed in this survey
can also be felt, as a majority say other
foreign countries with growing economies,
like China and India, are more supportive
of their small businesses and
manufacturers than the United States.
SEPTEMBER 2012

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Bottom Line In this environment it may not be surprising, but is still concerning, that
Bottom Line
In this environment it may not be
surprising, but is still concerning, that a
majority of these respondents say that
given what they know now and in the
current economic climate for business,
they would not start a business today.
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Attitudes About the Direction of the Country, the Economy, and the Challenges Facing America’s Businesses
Attitudes About the Direction of
the Country, the Economy, and
the Challenges Facing
America’s Businesses
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These respondents make it clear they believe the national economy has created a worse position
These respondents make it clear they believe the national
economy has created a worse position for their businesses.
This is especially true for the smallest companies.
Position of Economy for Small Businesses and Manufacturers Compared
to Three Years Ago
Total Better
Total Worse
24%
Better
Worse
55%
Revenue <$100K
Much
Better
6%
Revenue $100K-$500K
Somewhat
Much
Better
Worse
Revenue $500K-$1 mil.
18%
35%
About the
Revenue > $1 mil.
19% 63%
22% 56%
25% 55%
26% 53%
Same
Somewhat
20%
Don’t
Worse
Know
20%
1%
Compared to three years ago…Would you say the national economy is in a better or worse position for American small businesses
and manufacturers to succeed, or is it in about the same position?
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Small business owners and especially manufacturers say there is too much economic uncertainty for their
Small business owners and especially manufacturers say
there is too much economic uncertainty for their
companies to expand.
My company is now
operating from the
standpoint that there is
enough economic
opportunity in the market
today to expand, grow,
or hire new workers.
…or…
There is too much
economic uncertainty in
the market today for my
company to expand,
grow, or hire new
workers.
Enough
Opportunity
32%
Too Much
Uncertainty
Don’t
Know
67%
1%
-29%
-43%
71%
64%
35%
28%
Small Businesses
Manufacturers
Thinking some more about your company, I am going to read you two statements and please tell me which one comes closest to
your opinion.
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The actions taken by the Obama Administration or Congress have increased the level of economic
The actions taken by the Obama Administration or Congress
have increased the level of economic uncertainty.
And, have the federal regulations and decisions issued by
President Obama’s administration or laws passed by
Congress increased or decreased the level of economic
uncertainty facing your company?
Among respondents
who say there is too
much uncertainty to
expand
Among all
respondents
Increased Level of
Economic Uncertainty
68%
45%
Decreased Level of
Economic Uncertainty
27%
18%
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The cost of health insurance and government spending are top challenges facing small business owners
The cost of health insurance and government spending are top
challenges facing small business owners and manufacturers.
Top Challenges Facing Your Business
%8-10
Mean Score
Health insurance costs
Government spending
Federal, state, and local taxes
Energy costs
Lack of available capital
Regulatory costs
Labor costs
Employee benefit costs (excluding health care)
Lack of skilled workers
Foreign competition
56%
7.1
54%
7.0
49%
6.9
39%
6.3
36%
5.9
36%
5.9
30%
5.8
30%
5.7
28%
5.1
25%
4.4
Now, I would like to read you a list of factors that some companies are concerned about. For each one, please rate how significant a
challenge it is for your business using a scale from 1 to 10, where one means that it is not at all a significant challenge for your business and
where ten means it is a very significant challenge. You can choose any number between one and ten depending on how strongly you feel
about it.
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Measuring the Impact of Today’s Environment on These Business Owners and Senior Executives SEPTEMBER 2012
Measuring the Impact of
Today’s Environment on
These Business Owners and
Senior Executives
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About one in four small business owners and manufacturers report considering or cancelling a planned
About one in four small business owners and manufacturers
report considering or cancelling a planned capital investment,
laying off employees, and using their own personal savings.
Sacrifices Made or Considered
%Yes
Cancelling a planned capital investment or expansion
26%
Laying off workers
24%
Putting my own savings in to remain open
23%
Dropping employee health care plans
11%
Borrowing to remain open
11%
Closing a business or businesses
6%
Personally taken a pay cut
6%
[Asked of those who report having made financial sacrifices] And, what sacrifices have you made, or considered making?
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A majority of respondents say they would not start a new business today. Surprisingly, this
A majority of respondents say they would not start a new
business today. Surprisingly, this percentage is higher
among those whose companies have higher sales revenues.
%No
Small businesses
51%
No, Would
Not Start
Business
Today
Yes, Would
Start
Business
Today
Manufacturer
59%
Revenue <$100K
49%
55%
45%
Revenue $100K-$500K
57%
Revenue $500K-$1 mil.
56%
Revenue > $1 mil.
55%
Still thinking about your business, given what you know now and in the current economic climate for businesses, would you start
a business today?
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Manufacturers told us the reasons they would not start a business today.  Regulations at
Manufacturers told us the reasons they would not
start a business today.
 Regulations at the federal, state, and local
levels are too numerous and too costly;
 The economy is not doing well, and small
business owners face uncertainty as to
whether or not it will improve soon;
 Taxes are too high; and,
 The costs of many factors, including health
care, fuel, and workers’ compensation have
skyrocketed.
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Small business owners also told us why they would not start a business today. Burdensome
Small business owners also told us why they
would not start a business today.
Burdensome regulations;
An economy with high uncertainty and
low disposable income;
High taxes; and
Higher costs of health care, fuel, and
other necessities.
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Attitudes About Regulation SEPTEMBER 2012
Attitudes About
Regulation
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These respondents, especially from the smaller businesses, report a worsening of the relationship between small
These respondents, especially from the smaller
businesses, report a worsening of the relationship between
small businesses and federal regulators.
Better
13%
Would you say that the
efforts of federal regulatory
agencies to work with small
businesses are getting better
or getting worse?
About
Worse
the Same
55%
26%
Don’t
Know
6%
-44%
-44%
-21%
-24%
55%
57%
48%
42%
24%
21%
11%
13%
2-5 Employees
6-20 Employees
21-99 Employees
100+ Employees
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Small business owners and manufacturers say that small businesses and consumers are hurt most by
Small business owners and manufacturers say that
small businesses and consumers are hurt most by new
federal regulations.
Hurt Most by New Federal Regulations
Small Businesses
60%
Consumers
32%
Workers
26%
Large Businesses
10%
Labor Unions
4%
The Federal Government
3%
Attorneys or Lawyers
2%
And whom do you think is hurt the MOST by new federal regulations?
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These respondents say the most likely results of new regulations would be negative and would
These respondents say the most likely results of new
regulations would be negative and would impact jobs and
increase prices.
Most Likely Result of the Passage of New Federal Regulations
Small
Total
Manufacturers
Business
More businesses closing or
moving overseas
27%
30%
24%
Higher prices for US goods and
services
24%
25%
22%
Job losses
23%
19%
28%
Better wages and opportunities for
US workers
7%
7%
6%
Greater consumer protections
6%
6%
8%
Additional health, safety, and
environmental benefits
6%
7%
5%
And, which of the following do you believe will be the most likely to occur if many of the proposed legislative and regulatory
actions impacting small businesses and manufacturing coming out of Washington, DC, go into effect?
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China, India, and a View of America’s Competition SEPTEMBER 2012
China, India, and a
View of America’s
Competition
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Foreign competitors are not perceived to be as significant a negative influence as the United
Foreign competitors are not perceived to be as
significant a negative influence as the United States’ own
regulations and taxes.
Thinking again about your company,
which of the following has the MOST
negative impact on your company’s
ability to compete in today’s market.
Is it…
Foreign
Competitors
32%
U.S.
Regulations
Don’t
62%
Know
Foreign competitors who receive
subsidies and have access to lower
operating costs and fewer
regulations?
6%
-36%
-23%
…or…
The United States’ own laws,
regulations, rules, taxes, and fees
that impose unnecessary costs and
business impediments?
65%
59%
36%
29%
Small Businesses
Manufacturers
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Small business owners and manufacturers say that developing countries are more supportive of their small
Small business owners and manufacturers say that
developing countries are more supportive of their small
businesses and manufacturers.
And would you say that foreign governments with growing economies like
China and India are more supportive or less supportive of their small
businesses and manufacturers than the United States?
Total More
Total Less
54%
30%
+22%
+25%
54%
Much
53%
Less
Much
11%
More
32%
29%
Somewhat
Less
28%
19%
Don’t
Somewhat
More
Know
16%
25%
Small Businesses
Manufacturers
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Looking at the Issue of Health Care SEPTEMBER 2012
Looking at the Issue
of Health Care
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Two-thirds of respondents who offer their employees health insurance think the health care law will
Two-thirds of respondents who offer their employees health
insurance think the health care law will cause insurance costs to
increase. More than one in five say they will consider dropping
health insurance coverage for their employees.
Health Care Costs With ACA Among
Employers Who Offer Insurance
Changes Because of the ACA Among
Employers Who Offer Insurance
Decrease
59% Consider making changes in
view of the new health law
10%
Among those who offer insurance
Stay About
the Same
22%
38%
Increase
Increasing the amount
employees have to pay
for their health care
coverage
67%
Don’t
Dropping coverage for
employees
21%
Know
1%
With the federal health insurance law now in effect, do you expect your health care costs to increase, decrease, or stay about the
same? | Which of the following changes, if any, is your company considering in view of the health law
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Attitudes About President Obama and the Obama Administration SEPTEMBER 2012
Attitudes About President
Obama and the Obama
Administration
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Respondents say President Obama’s recent executive and regulatory policies have hurt American small businesses and
Respondents say President Obama’s recent executive and
regulatory policies have hurt American small businesses
and manufacturers.
Now I am going to read you two
statements about President Obama’s
recent executive and regulatory
policies, and please tell me which
one comes closest to your own
opinion.
Small
Total
Business
Manufacturers
Owners
President Obama’s executive branch
and regulatory policies have helped
American small businesses and
manufacturers.
29% 31% 27%
…or…
President Obama’s Executive Branch
and regulatory policies have hurt
American small businesses and
manufacturers.
69% 67% 71%
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Final Thoughts SEPTEMBER 2012
Final Thoughts
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Appendix: I. Additional Notes on Methodology II. Quotes from Small Business Owners and Manufacturers SEPTEMBER
Appendix:
I. Additional Notes on
Methodology
II. Quotes from Small Business
Owners and Manufacturers
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Additional Notes on Methodology SEPTEMBER 2012
Additional Notes
on Methodology
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Comparing this survey to government data. This Survey Government and Other Data Female-Owned Businesses 33%
Comparing this survey to government data.
This Survey
Government and
Other Data
Female-Owned Businesses
33%
29% 1
Minority-Owned Businesses
16%
15% 2
Northeast
22%
22% 3
Midwest
22%
23% 3
South
34%
32% 3
West
23%
24% 3
1 National Women's Business Council, http://www.nwbc.gov/sites/default/files/women-owned%20businesses%20general.pdf
2 US Census Bureau, http://www2.census.gov/econ/sbo/07/pums/2007_sbo_pums_users_guide.pdf
3 US Census Bureau, http://www2.census.gov/econ/susb/data/2006/us_state_totals_2006.xls
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Comparing this survey to government data. Types of Women-Owned Businesses Types of Minority-Owned Businesses This
Comparing this survey to government data.
Types of Women-Owned Businesses
Types of Minority-Owned Businesses
This
Census
This
Census
Survey
Data 1
Survey
Data 2
Retail
15%
14%
Food Service
16%
18%
Food Service
7%
9%
Retail
10%
15%
Real Estate
7%
6%
Software
7%
n/a
Service
7%
8%
Engineering
7%
n/a
Construction
5%
6%
Real Estate
6%
3%
Health Care
5%
n/a
Service
6%
8%
Farming
5%
n/a
1 US Census Bureau, http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/2012/tables/12s0769.pdf
2 US Census Bureau, http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/2012/tables/12s0770.pdf
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Comparing this survey to other national data. Party Identification of Small Business Owners This Survey
Comparing this survey to other national data.
Party Identification of Small Business Owners
This Survey
National Data 1
Republican
46%
48%
Independent
16%
16%
Democrat
36%
35%
1 Based on national surveys conducted by Public Opinion Strategies over the past two years. A total of 5,600 interviews were
conducted among registered voters using both landlines and cell phones using random digit dialing. The total number of self-
described small business owners was 633, or 11% of the interviews conducted.
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Quotes from Small Business Owners and Manufacturers SEPTEMBER 2012
Quotes from Small
Business Owners and
Manufacturers
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Small business owners put a greater emphasis on two additional points. Although a few manufacturers
Small business owners put a greater
emphasis on two additional points.
Although a few manufacturers also mentioned these points,
there was a stronger sense among small business owners
that the capital needed to begin was simply not as readily
available as it had been in the past. Many also noted a
lack of qualified employees or other problems with new
entrants into the work force.
“What I would like to see
“Training is the key
word. Training. Go
to a trade school and
vocational training in
high school. It’s
desperately needed.”
—Small business
owner
is
having
kids better
“A real lack of
skilled workers.”
—Small business
owner
educated so that they can
come out through vocational
school or high school with
the skills that are required in
my industry.”
—Small business owner
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What respondents told us about the economy and uncertainty: “The current climate has sucked all
What respondents told us about the economy
and uncertainty:
“The current climate has
sucked all the discretionary
funds out of the American
public…Everybody’s on edge
because of the current
economic climate.”
—Manufacturer
“There is just too much uncertainty. The
government is always looking over your
shoulder instead of staying out of the
way…With today’s business climate you
put in too many hours for very little
return. There is no certainty.”
—Small business owner
“Not knowing how
much taxes a small
business has to
pay…I wonder
where this country is
going on the federal
level.”
—Small business
owner
“We keep waiting
for improvement
in the economy
where more
people will come
through the door.”
—Small business
owner
“Just the complete lack of
confidence in the future…Disposable
income is something people don’t
have…Not knowing what our taxes are
going to be next year, or in the next two
years. These are questions that I don’t
know, nobody knows what the answer
is. I don’t know if there is a future for
my business.”
—Manufacturer
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What respondents told us about taxes, regulations, and a lack of capital: “There’s no money.
What respondents told us about taxes,
regulations, and a lack of capital:
“There’s no
money. Banks
don’t loan
money to start
these things.”
—Small
business owner
“Government
regulations that
retard
development.”
—Manufacturer
“Thanks to the rules
and regulations, it is
too hard and
confusing to start one
up.”
—Small business
owner
“Basically, I would say access to
capital and regulation. Banks have
a ton of money, but they’re not
loaning it to small businesses…The
number of federal and state
regulations…I think a lot of
bureaucrats don’t realize that
they’re adding to the cost of
opening a small business.”
—Small business owner
“The cost of
starting a business
is ridiculous. The
government
regulations make it
very difficult for us.”
—Manufacturer
“Your tax rates, capital gains taxes,
new federal programs that will cost
employers money, the cost of
healthcare, personal tax rates, lack
of activity in the market, lack of
demand…”
—Small business owner
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PUBLIC OPINION STRATEGIES 214 N. Fayette St. Alexandria, VA 22314 Glen Bolger, Partner glen@pos.org 703.836.7655
PUBLIC OPINION
STRATEGIES
214 N. Fayette St.
Alexandria, VA 22314
Glen Bolger, Partner
glen@pos.org
703.836.7655
Bill McInturff, Partner
bill@pos.org
703.836.7655
SEPTEMBER 2012
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