Squeezed by regulations and tax hikes, small-business owners say they're feeling ignored by federal officials in the rush to save Wall Street, according to a new survey.
According to PayCycle, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based payroll firm, 58 percent of 215 small-business owners recently surveyed said the government is not addressing their needs. While 69 percent said they're not directly affected by the credit crunch, nearly all said they were worried about the economy.
Rather than the Wall Street crisis and the credit crunch, most small-business owners are worried about the impact of excessive regulations and taxes on shrinking profit margins, said PayCycle CEO Jim Heeger.
"They see their business dropping off, so they have to reduce their ongoing costs to survive," Heeger said. "I think they're fearful of their margins deteriorating significantly. They want something that would immediately help reduce the burdens of regulations and taxes," he said.
Nearly three quarters of survey respondents said they expected a protracted slowdown for at least the next 18 months. Only 19 percent said they expect the economy to bounce back within the year, while just eight percent were anticipating improvements within six months.
According to Heeger, the biggest problem owners are facing is a sharp decline in consumer spending, not tougher access to credit.
Only a handful of owners polled reported postponing investments or hiring plans as a result of difficulty getting a loan, though some said tighter credit conditions could ruin their business.
To cope, many small businesses are cutting operational costs and personal expenses, while offering customers new services or discounts, the survey found.