|JOYCE M. ROSENBERG, AP Business Writer|
A BIT MORE OPTIMSTIC
Small business owners are slowly growing more confident about their companies and the economy — but they're also still cautious about hiring and expanding.
But close to half the owners surveyed — 44 percent — said they have no plans to hire or may cut their staff in the next six months. The good news is that's down from 61 percent last fall. Thirty-five percent said they would be hiring, up from 31 percent.
Using their companies' performance as a guide, 35 percent of the survey participants said the economy is recovering, up from 24 percent last fall. The number of owners who said we're still in a recession fell slightly from the fall, to 34 percent from 38 percent.
Small business owners have taken a number steps to keep afloat. Forty-one percent said they had stopped hiring, and the same amount said they had frozen staffers' salaries. Thirty-six percent said they dipped into their own savings or other personal assets to help the business. Twenty-eight percent brought a family member into the business without pay to help out.
THE GROWING TAX BURDEN
Taxes are a painful subject for small businesses. It's not just paying them that hurts — record-keeping, visiting accountants and preparing tax forms pose an administrative and financial burden for companies. And it's a burden that's growing.
Income taxes pose the biggest administrative burden for small businesses, followed by payroll taxes and sales tax.
The survey also found that 53 percent of participants spent more than
ARE YOU COVERED?
Wildfires and tornadoes in many parts of the U.S. are serving as a reminder to business owners that they need to be sure they have adequate insurance coverage in case disaster strikes their company.
Many companies buy property and casualty insurance that will cover damage to a company's premises.
There doesn't have to be physical damage to a building for a company to collect under business interruption insurance; it can cover losses that are due to a power failure or a road that's washed out. The coverage usually starts after a company has been unable to operate for 48 hours. This type of insurance is usually included in a standard business owner's insurance policy. But if you bought a policy that covered only property and casualty damage, you wouldn't have business interruption coverage.
People who operate companies out of their homes also need to be sure that their businesses will be covered in a disaster. A homeowners' policy might not cover business equipment or inventory stored in a home.
You can find out more about business insurance at the institute's website, www.iii.org.
MARK YOUR CALENDAR
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