Most small business owners (67.2%) are optimistic about the growth of their business over the next six months, despite significant hiring challenges, according to new survey data from SCORE, the nation’s largest network of volunteer, expert business mentors. Comparable data from a 2017 SCORE survey showed similar levels of optimism (69% of small businesses owners), suggesting that the pandemic has not crushed entrepreneurial spirits.
The Megaphone of Main Street: Small Business Jobs Report disclosed that in line with this optimism, 56% of small businesses plan to hire additional employees in 2021.
To attract and retain employees, survey respondents report offering:
- Increased wages (60.5%)
- Professional training and skill development (36.6%)
- Remote work options (34.6%)
Personal recommendations are key to finding qualified employees. Business owners are most successful finding employees through:
- Personal recommendations (56%)
- Job posting sites (46.6%)
- Recommendations from other business owners (34.9%)
Still, most (55.1%) small business owners expect hiring challenges to continue into 2022 and beyond.
One frustrated business owner said: “Unfortunately, [I don’t believe] the workforce will return to pre-pandemic expectations. I am not sure I will be able to hold out for six more months where I can afford to hire local people. I am taking a hard look at moving manufacturing of my products overseas.”
To recover from the pandemic and attract top talent, business owners request outside help and additional resources including:
- Better healthcare options for small business employers (51%)
- Loan forgiveness/debt relief (49.9%)
- Access to capital (41.5%)
- Termination of unemployment benefits (38.7%)
“Access to good, affordable child care would help my employees return to a fuller schedule. Right now, child care expenses negate their pay,” said one survey respondent. “We can’t provide both high pay and more robust benefits. Our whole industry would improve if there were some good public options for these.”
Since 1964, SCORE has helped 11 million entrepreneurs to start, grow or troubleshoot a business. SCORE’s 10,000 volunteers provide free mentoring, workshops and educational services to 1,500+ communities nationwide, creating 45,027 new businesses and 74,535 non-owner jobs in 2020 alone. Funded [in part] through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration.