Small-business confidence hits record high in 2018 after Trump tax-reform win

Small-business confidence is surging in 2018 as optimism rises among small-business owners about the newly enacted tax-reform package, according to the latest CNBC/SurveyMonkey Small Business Survey, released Tuesday.
The CNBC/SurveyMonkey Q1 Small Business Confidence Index saw an increase of five points, from 57 to 62, a record high and the largest quarter-to-quarter move the index has seen since CNBC and SurveyMonkey began measuring last year. This is the first survey since President Donald Trump signed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act into law on December 22, 2017.
In the Q4 survey, small-business owners were split evenly on the core question about the effect that tax policy would have on their business. Opinions have shifted significantly: Twice as many now expect changes in tax policy to have a positive rather than negative effect on their businesses. Forty-six percent of those surveyed say tax policy changes will have a positive effect, up from 38 percent in the fourth quarter. The number of those saying tax policy changes will have a negative impact fell sharply, from 36 percent in the fourth quarter to 23 percent in the most recent survey.
Confidence rose among almost all demographic groups, with the largest increases coming from companies with five to nine employees, and small-business owners ages 35–44 and 55–64.
The CNBC/SurveyMonkey data underscores other polling from advocacy groups, including the conservative lobbying group the National Federation of Independent Business. Its latest monthly optimism report for January 2018 showed the second-highest level of sentiment since Trump took office. The report also had its highest yearly average ever in 2017.
“These numbers are historically high,” Juanita Duggan, president and CEO of the NFIB, told CNBC. “This shows small-business owners are more than just optimistic, they are ready to grow their business.”
The National Small Business Association, a nonpartisan lobbying group, also recently released its Year-End Economic Report for 2017, which found that more than half of small-business owners feel the national economy is doing better than it was just six months ago. This is compared to 43 percent who reported the same in December 2016, and only 20 percent in December 2015. In addition, 59 percent said they anticipate economic expansion in the next year, and more than one-third of small-business owners said they felt very confident about the future of their own business, the highest level in more than a decade.
“I think the jump in optimism isn’t just due to tax reform, but largely due to the economy doing better,” said Molly Day, vice president of public affairs for the NSBA. “Certainly, the tax-reform piece is helpful, but in reality I think small businesses are just now starting to digest what it means for their business.”
Health care and hiring remain big challenges
Despite the optimistic outlook, challenges remain on Main Street. Small-business owners are looking to Washington for progress on additional issues, including health-care reform. CNBC and SurveyMonkey found that 30 percent of business owners say they want Congress to tackle health care, with 2 in 10 now reporting the cost of employee health care as the most critical issue facing their business. The NSBA’s data also found the cost of health insurance to be the most significant challenge to the future growth and survival of small firms.
“I think that because of the cost of health care, hiring among the smallest businesses won’t be changed significantly,” Day said. She added that in the NSBA’s opinion, tax reform isn’t done.
“There was a tax cut, but very little was accomplished in terms of small-business parity with larger businesses,” Day contended. “Complexity wasn’t touched at all, and the administrative burdens of federal taxes are actually a bigger problem for small firms than the financial cost of taxes.”

She added: “The growing debt is still a major concern for small-business owners.”
Another key area of concern for small businesses is finding skilled labor. In the NFIB’s data, the quality of labor is now the top issue. Hiring is challenging, and more businesses are raising wages in order to hang on to the workers they have. The NFIB reports worker compensation is at its highest level since 2000.
The CNBC/SurveyMonkey online poll was conducted Jan. 29 through Feb. 5, 2018, among a national sample of 2,080 self-identified small-business owners ages 18 and up, across a wide swath of industries. Respondents were selected from the nearly 3 million people who take surveys on the SurveyMonkey platform each day using its online polling methodology. Responses have a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percentage points.
The Small Business Confidence Index is calculated on a scale from 0–100 and is based on the responses to eight key questions. A zero indicates no confidence, and a score of 100 indicates perfect confidence.


Tim Scott Meets With Black Business Leaders

U.S. Senator Tim Scott met with dozens of minority business owners at an event in North Charleston, South Carolina last week. The gathering – hosted by Scott’s office and the South Carolina African American Chamber of Commerce – featured a “productive discussion with some inspiring local leaders,” according to a tweet from Scott.

Stephen Gilchrist, the leader of the black chamber, agreed – calling it a “great meeting between Senator Scott and black business leaders.”

Gilchrist told us he was encouraged to see so many “black leaders (who) are not establishment blacks” in attendance, adding that events like this “may be signaling a tide change in black politics” in the Palmetto State.

Is he right? Possibly … although as we’ve noted on numerous prior occasions “Republicans” and Democrats in Washington, D.C. (and at the S.C. State House) have become virtually indistinguishable on the vast majority of issues.

Still, Scott is one of the better GOP votes in our nation’s capital – standing in stark contrast to the leftward lean of liberal U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham. As a result, Scott continues to receive the support of broad swaths of “Republican” voters in South Carolina, whereas Graham does not.

Scott played an integral role in the passage of the GOP tax plan, which has undergone a surge in popular support as increasing numbers of Americans have seen a boost in their paychecks thanks to the new law.

No Democrats voted for that plan, incidentally … a rare point of contrast in our increasingly monochromatic (a.k.a. #TeamPurple) capital.

This news site was never thrilled with the GOP plan … arguing on multiple occasions that it didn’t provide enough relief to middle income earners and small businesses (and didn’t make deep enough cuts to government). We still view it as a missed opportunity.

Also, the jury is still out as to whether the plan will stimulate the economy …

Nonetheless, we believe Scott did his best during negotiations to advance the interests of those who needed (and still need) relief the most – including those black business owners he met with last week in North Charleston.

South Carolina is facing some serious economic challenges right now … and solving them is going to require us to set aside our surface differences aside and work together for the good of everyone. More importantly, it’s going to require a fundamental reorientation of our current (failed) governing philosophy – which embraces unsustainable spending and crony capitalist handouts at the expense of the taxpayers and job creators.

SCAA Chamber of Commerce and Greater Charleston Business Alliance to combine forces

On Monday, June 8, 2015, the SC African American Chamber of Commerce and Greater Charleston Business Alliance signed a Strategic Partnership Agreement launching a new era of minority economic development and advocacy for South Carolina and bordering states. Combining forces immediately emerged an army of well over 3,000 minority owned businesses who are affiliated. Additionally, numerous buying organizations who seek the elite ethnically diverse, woman owned and veteran owned members both entities boasts are positioned to plunge into a pool of the best MBEs South Carolina has to offer.

About the Strategic Partnership

With the expertise and endorsement of GCBA Founder, Dr. Evelyn DeLaine Hart and the incomparable influence of SCAAC Chairmen Stephen Gilchrist, both leaders signed a formal Strategic Partnership Agreement fusing both organizations. Upon signing the agreement Dr. Delaine Hart stated, “We just changed the climate in South Carolina for minority businesses! We all have a brighter forecast as a result of the clout, influence and expertise of the combined leadership and membership of our organizations…Now let’s get to work!” Gilchrist stated, “This is only the beginning of what will be offered to South Carolina in the area of minority economic empowerment. We have quickly initiated several new projects with legislators, Fortune 500 Companies and prominent buying organizations while interfacing our supplier database and membership into a higher realm of economic growth and development. Our voice just got louder!”

The SCAAC will collaborate with GCBA to produce positive measurable outcomes in the following areas: increase the number of buying organizations and suppliers/members who are vetted and positioned for matchmaking; increase supplier to supplier matchmaking to produce strong joint ventures; increase the number of winning bids and opportunities for single suppliers and those who formed joint ventures; increase measurable and documentable monetary retention for minorities from buying organizations and every level of government. To further enhance positive outcomes stemming from the strategic partnership between SCAAC and GCBA, programs, training and assistance in certifications and bonding will play a significant role in creating success stories within the membership, buying organizations and the community. “An essential element in furthering successful minority business and economic development is our continued legislative involvement relating to policies that directly affect the economic infrastructure of South Carolina,” stated Gilchrist.

Metrics and measurements regarding all activities will be meticulously logged and charted. Goals and objectives for each quarter with reports from the previous quarter will be reviewed by a leadership committee comprised from both organizations. Founding Member and GCBA Chairman, Harold Gillens of Quintech Solutions is an expert regarding goals, objectives and measurements which lends to the years of success he has experienced with his own organization and the many minority businesses he has mentored. Gillens stated, “My leadership role with GCBA has been extended to the unprecedented partnership we now have with SCAACC. Together we bear the greatest responsibility of producing the highest caliber of outcomes never before seen in our state for the minority business community. Unification is the strong arm we will use to break down every barrier and accomplish our goals in a very strategic approach.”

In response to the recent tragedy in Charleston at Emmanuel AME Church, GCBA and SCAAC have begun to implement strategies which will foster a greater bond between the corporate and legislative sectors, and the community in honor of Senator Clementa C. Pinckney who was beloved by both organizations. The business community is invited to inquire and participate in all that will take place to further his work and legacy of equality, diversity and inclusion for the minority community in South Carolina.

Read more at Carolina Panoroma