National Survey Reveals Opportunities For Small Business

Small Business

Travelers Institute, the public policy division of The Travelers Companies, Inc., last week released the results of its national small business survey – commissioned to identify the challenges facing entrepreneurs across the country. An advocate for small business owners, the Travelers Institute also released its white paper (pdf), titled “Small Business, Big Opportunity – Finding Solutions for Small Business Challenges.” The white paper and survey results will serve as the cornerstone for discussion at the Travelers Institute’s national series of symposia on small business advocacy.

According to the Travelers Institute’s national small business survey, nearly two out of three of those surveyed find tax-related regulations too burdensome, while 51 percent find health insurance mandates challenging. When asked about disaster planning, more than half of all small business owners surveyed indicated that they do not have a business continuity plan, raising an alarm for small business preparedness.

“Through the survey, white paper, and national series of symposia, Travelers aims to raise awareness of the importance of small business to the U.S. economy and promote an environment that fosters growth,” said Joan Woodward, Travelers Executive Vice President of Public Policy, who also heads the Travelers Institute. “An important aspect of the national symposia series is to facilitate dialogue and encourage debate that may identify and propose alternatives to some of the regulations that are overly burdensome. Further, we hope to highlight the importance of risk management and disaster preparedness to small business viability.”

The majority of those surveyed feel that the economy will improve over the next year. Owners of startup businesses are especially optimistic that the national economy and fiscal situation will be better a year from now than it is today.

While the survey reveals that small business owners may believe their revenue will grow and that they will be hiring new employees over the next year, close to a third of those surveyed feel government regulations are negatively impacting their ability to hire and retain employees, as well as grow their businesses.

Additional key issues of concern for small business owners, according to the survey, include:

47 percent find operational regulations burdensome, such as licensing, permitting, and inspection issues;

52 percent feel government regulations more heavily impact small businesses than their larger counterparts;

64 percent feel a single point of contact to deal with regulatory requirements to start a business at the federal and state level would be helpful.

With these statistics in mind, the Travelers Institute proposes three principles for small business advocacy in its white paper:

1) Raise awareness of the importance of small businesses as well as identify and pursue opportunities to promote economic growth;

2) Encourage and recommend alternatives to burdensome regulatory procedures and proposals for small businesses through outreach to lawmakers;

3) Facilitate public-private partnerships to raise awareness of issues essential to small business success, such as risk management and business continuity planning.

The Travelers Institute launched its national symposia series on March 15 in Morristown, New Jersey. The Travelers Institute will hold its next panel discussion in Atlanta, Georgia, on May 18, with others in select markets across the country throughout 2011. This tour brings together key stakeholders to discuss ways to create better operating climates for small businesses and raise awareness of the importance of risk management and disaster preparedness to small business viability. For more information on the New Jersey event and to read the white paper, visit

Woodward added, “Travelers is committed to the success of America’s entrepreneurs and small business owners.”

Survey Methodology / Sample Qualifications

Interviews were conducted via a telephone survey among a sample of small business owners with 1 to 50 employees, representative at an industry and state level. The interviewing was conducted from February 18 to March 11, 2011, resulting in 600 survey responses.

SOURCE: Travelers Institute

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