Soaring health-care and energy costs are the two most pressing issues facing today's women business owners, according to a new survey by Women Impacting Public Policy.
Health care was cited as important or extremely important by 73% of the survey's approximately 350 respondents, and 79% said that a wide-ranging overhaul of the health-care system is necessary.
The survey showed that 65% of women business owners offer some form of health benefits to their employees. According to the National Coalition on Health Care, only 59.8% of U.S. citizens had some type employment-based health insurance in 2004.
"Health care is definitely the number-one concern of our members," said Barbara Kasoff, president and co-founder WIPP, a 350,000-member non-profit group based in Washington, D.C. "Women business owners probably care more about to providing health care coverage than male business owners."
Energy was cited as a top concern by 62% of those polled, finishing slightly ahead of worries about the growing federal budget deficit. More than two thirds of respondents said that higher energy prices have negatively impacted their businesses.
"Our members are feeling higher energy prices at the gas pump and in their travel costs," Kasoff said. "It's absolutely impacting their bottom line. At the same time, we're watching a growing deficit, and nobody knows going what to make of it."
Respondents also reported a broad consensus on the subject of taxes, with 75% expressing a need for the current tax structure to be comprehensively reformed. Women business owners also called for tax cuts concerning personal income tax brackets, capital gains and dividends, expensing limits for small business, and for current estate-tax limits to be made permanent.
Despite a wide variety of strong concerns, women business owners are nonetheless optimistic, according the survey, with 76% of respondents expecting their revenues to increase this year, while 57% planning to add up to five employees.