American business owners continue to be optimistic about the prospects for their businesses, but are concerned about the overall economy.
The study, by the business management software provider the Sage Group, carried out by research firm Populus, found that on a scale of 0-100, where 50 is neutral and values above 50 reflect optimism and those below 50 denote pessimism, business owners have a confidence index at 55 when asked about their business prospects in the next six months. Confidence in the U.S. economy as a whole, however, was more negative at 41.57, a drop from 50.75 when the first Sage Business Index was conducted in February 2011.
Findings indicated confidence differences varied according to the size of the business. Small businesses were the least confident about what the future will bring, and the level of confidence increased with the number of employees a company has.
Similar to findings from Sage's first business index survey conducted earlier this year, business culture and entrepreneurial spirit is one of the most favorable aspects of doing business in the U.S. It was cited by 59 percent of the survey respondents, followed by having a skilled workforce to recruit from (46 percent) and access to a strong domestic market (41 percent).
Conversely, surveyed businesses considered government to be the biggest problem when doing business in the country. Government's handling of current economic challenges (63 percent), government bureaucracy and legislation (59 percent) and government's attitude to business were ranked first, second and third least favorable aspects of carrying out business in the U.S. Moreover, of those who find government bureaucracy and legislation one of the most unfavorable facets of the country's business sphere, 59 percent find tax law as the most burdensome area and businesses with lower revenue are more likely to think this is the case.
When it comes to government support, 69 percent of the surveyed businesses responded that the U.S. government is not providing them with sufficient support. Survey findings also revealed that businesses with fewer employees are more likely to feel that way.
When asked about initiatives the government should be carrying out to help businesses in the U.S., 55 percent cited national debt reduction as the top priority, followed by reduction of business bureaucracy and legislation (47 percent) and reduction of business taxes (37 percent). Attitudes to what the government should do are broadly similar across different types of business.
When participants were asked about the challenges they face as a business, respondents ranked maintaining or growing revenue, rising costs and gaining new customers as the top three most difficult business challenges faced in the past six months and anticipated for the next half year.
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