Small Business Outlook – Looking for Bright Spots

Small business owners are enjoying a tepid recovery in uncertain economic times. However, crisis comes with opportunity – and the smart business owners are finding just that. We avoided the fiscal cliff, plowed right into sequestration, and the Dow Jones closed at a record high, all in the not-yet-completed first quarter of 2013. With news that unemployment just hit a 4-year low, is the light at the end of the tunnel getting brighter for small businesses?

In the United States Chamber of Commerce quarterly outlook survey for Q4 2012, most respondents didn’t predict growth. Nearly half of U.S. companies haven’t added additional staff to their payroll in the last year and more than half don’t plan to do so in the coming year. Only one in five U.S. companies plans to make capital investments and almost none expect to increase inventories. So, what’s the good news? The fiscal cliff deal extended multiple tax breaks for small businesses, including the R&D tax credit, The Work Opportunity Tax Credit, and the Section 179 Deduction. Smart business owners are leveraging these incentives to grow their businesses and taking advantage when opportunity presents itself.

In an uncertain regulatory environment, small business owners could see rising taxes but are positive they’ll see the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. With the advent of State Insurance Exchanges and a coming boost to tax incentives to provide healthcare to employees in 2014, healthcare costs could actually decrease. The housing market also gives a glimmer of hope. Inventories and mortgage rates are down, while sales and prices are expected to continue to rise in 2013. In a final piece of good news, while few small business owners are showing confidence and optimism these days, there are more, (approximately 7%), showing that confidence today than were a year ago. Maybe those that keep their heads, while all about them others are losing theirs, can gain after all. Perhaps there is a correlation between confident business owners that stay positive and focused on their own company growth versus business owners who allow themselves to become downtrodden place focus elsewhere.

IBERIABANK specializes in helping small businesses grow.