- Small business owners (SBOs) said they're optimistic about business growth in 2019 despite being cautious about the economy, according to a new TD Bank survey. The 2019 Small Business Survey found that 23% of SBOs plan to expand their workforces in 2019, compared to 21% in 2018. The survey also found that 54% of SBOs expect to see revenue growth in 2019, compared to 52% in 2018.
- Respondents' optimism about growth was tempered by issues they cited as their biggest obstacles: the national economy's health (37%), inflation (21%) and finding qualified talent (18%). The survey indicated a mixed reaction from business owners as to whether they benefited from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. According to the respondents, 64% said the tax law didn't help their business in 2019.
- In other survey results, 40% of respondents supported the communities in which their business operates by living in those communities. Thirty-two percent said they support local communities through activities like charity events and volunteer work, while 25% said they did so by hiring local talent.
Though roughly one-fifth of SBOs polled plan to continue hiring into the year, about the same amount of respondents gave "hiring qualified talent" as one of the biggest obstacles to their growth, according to TD Bank. The talent shortage remains a perennial issue for employers. Last month, after a slight uptick in January, U.S. unemployment hit a 50-year low at 3.6%, meaning there are even fewer talented candidates circulating in the job pool. However, low unemployment is not the sole gauge for available talent. A recent ThriveMap survey revealed that 48% of workers have left a job for better opportunities when another role fell short of expectations.
It can be hard for talent professionals to know what matters most to talent, and recruiting in the current environment will likely be even harder for small businesses, which often lack the resources big businesses have for attracting talent — from compensation to benefits, perks, training and technological advances. Last year, almost half of SBOs in a SurveyMonkey poll said "lack of education" was a roadblock to finding the right talent.
Small businesses might consider investing in learning and development to build the workforces they need. They may also need to use creative hiring and retention strategies, such as focusing on recognition programs, offering flexible work schedules to accommodate parents and workers with other caregiving responsibilities and encouraging workers to pursue career growth goals concurrently with performing their assigned duties.