Small business owners in Iowa are optimistic about the state’s economic outlook, but are struggling to grow their operations. Those are some of the findings in a survey of nearly 8,600 small business owners led by Maureen Collins-Williams, director of the University of Northern Iowa Regional Business Center. She says 71% of those surveyed feel Iowa’s economy is moving in the right direction, while 78% believe Iowa is a good place to start a business.
“That may seem like a minor thing – people’s perception or attitudes – but it is that confidence level that is needed to move people from thinking about starting a business…to actually acting on it,” Collins-Williams said. Entrepreneurs from 91 of Iowa’s 99 counties responded to the 2010 survey. Collins-Williams says business starts last year increased by 11% and expansions increased by 7% over the last half of 2009.
“We think, based upon all of this, that we’ve hit bottom and we’re now very slowly beginning that climb through an economic recovery,” Collins-Williams said. Only 30% of the small business owners reported adding one or more new jobs last year. Securing capital continues to be a problem. Collins-Williams says for every dollar that small business owners secured in outside financing – they matched it, nearly dollar-for-dollar.
“Those are not normal business terms,” Collins-Williams said. “So, what we’re seeing is that entrepreneurs are investing in their companies, they believe in their companies…but unless they have adequate capital to finance growth of their companies, they’re going to be unable to add jobs.”
Outside of capital, entrepreneurs cite taxes, inflation and sluggish sales as their most pressing current concerns.