Small business owners feeling glum about economy: poll

President Barack Obama called them the “engines of growth” in a debate this week against Mitt Romney, but small businesses are feeling decidedly glum about the broader economy and more than half of them have no plans to hire anytime soon.

Just a third of small businesses say they are optimistic the economy will improve this year, down from 61 percent who felt the same way last spring, showed a new survey by The Hartford insurance group released on Thursday.

Their uneasiness about the sluggish economy has small businesses holding off on hiring. Nearly 60 percent of the 2,000 small business owners, with fewer than 100 employees, surveyed back in August said they did not add staff in the last year and 67 percent did not intend to hire over the next 12 months.

That’s disconcerting news about a segment of the economy the U.S. Small Business Administration touts as responsible for creating more than half of all new jobs.

“The last six months something has changed their view point,” said Liam McGee, president and chief executive of The Hartford, which provides insurance to about a million small businesses. “There’s just so much uncertainty about all those things that it’s putting a damper on growth and hiring.”

Swing state small businesses could loom large

In a very close presidential election race, small businesses in swing states could decide who wins or loses.

Nearly 50 percent of small business owners in key swing states (Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin) favored Republican challenger Mitt Romney over President Barack Obama, according to a survey released last week by Manta, an online small business community.

Despite Romney’s lead among swing state small business owners, Obama was narrowing the gap. The president was the choice for 38 percent of respondents, up six percentage points from a previous Manta survey released in May.

Small tech CEOs say Romney better for the economy: survey

Regardless of who won the presidential debate, the majority of executives from small technology firms would feel better if Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney wins next month’s general election.

Twice as many CEOs from small to medium-sized technology companies (57 percent) believe the U.S. economy would be better off under Romney, according to a poll conducted last month by Boston-based executive search firm Polachi.

Just 27 percent of executives polled thought President Barack Obama would do a better job guiding the economy.

Are patent reforms good for small businesses?

– Cynthia Hsu is a contributor to FindLaw’s Free Enterprise blog. FindLaw is a Thomson Reuters publication. –

President Obama recently signed into law the America Invents Act, a patent reform legislation that does away with the old “first to invent” rule. What does the patent reform mean for small businesses?

Most notably, the new legislation pushes Americans toward a “first to file” system, meaning that those who file for a patent first will get awarded the rights.

Small businesses need cash, not rhetoric

– George A. Cloutier, a graduate of Harvard Business School, is the founder and CEO of American Management Services, one of the Nation’s largest turnaround and management services firms specializing in small and mid-size companies. He is also the author of the bestselling book, “Profits Aren’t Everything, They’re the Only Thing”. The opinions expressed are his own. –

The lack of serious small business aid proposals, empty rhetoric, and general intransigence by the Republicans has anointed the Democrats by default as “The Party of Small Business.”

The Obama bill to inject $30 billion into community banks with the primary focus of expanding small business lending, is hardly a panacea. But Republican attempts to block the bill, for a variety of political (although not practical) reasons, amounts to more stumbling and bumbling by the opposition that has produced no worthwhile alternative.

Save the pelicans and small businesses

– George A. Cloutier is the founder and CEO of American Management Services and the author of the bestselling book “Profits Aren’t Everything, They’re the Only Thing”. The opinions expressed are his own. –

For the last two months we have been inundated with photos of oil-covered pelicans and other marine animals victimized by the oil spewing forth from the ruptured BP well in the Gulf of Mexico. The spill in the Gulf is obviously disastrous, but it pales to the economic “oil spill” that has destroyed small businesses over the last two years.

Pelicans and small business owners are faced with surprisingly similar situations: they are victims of disastrous events beyond their control. They are faced with a life-threatening struggle for survival, in which many have already passed due to lack of assistance, or are facing an uncertain future with promises of government intervention.

What the healthcare bill means for small businesses

– Christa Rapoport is the chief compliance officer for independent benefits consulting and brokerage firm Corporate Synergies Group, Inc. The views expressed are her own. –

The House of Representatives last night passed the Senate’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (H.R. 3590), as well as the Health Care & Education Affordability Reconciliation Act of 2010 (H.R. 4872).

While the final details are being ironed out, now the big question is: what does that mean for small businesses?

The stimulus plan: A year later

– By Rosalind Resnick. This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com

Veronica Rose, founder and CEO of Aurora Electric, a Jamaica, N.Y., electrical contracting company, has spent nearly 20 years successfully bidding on government contracts. One of the first women to obtain a master electrician’s license in a heavily male-dominated industry, Rose has worked on major projects at JFK International Airport and the World Trade Center. Her seven-person firm boasts a customer list that includes General Electric, NBC and Columbia University.

So how much of the $787 billion in stimulus money that the government approved last year has ended up in Aurora Electric’s bank account?

A healthcare proposal too big to succeed

– A. G. “Terry” Newmyer is a serial entrepreneur and the former founding chairman of The Fair Care Foundation, a patient-advocacy group focused on health insurance. The views expressed are his own. –

In recent remarks to business leaders, President Obama declared himself an “ardent believer in the free market.” So, there is at least one person who is an ardent believer in that sentence.

Just this week, I had lunch with a very prominent, sane, and successful Wall Street executive who was CEO of a big-name firm. He left more than a decade ago, during an era when those folks did so with pride rather than with investigations and grand jury subpoenas.

Entrepreneur designs own bailout package

A. G. Newmyer said slapping the slogan “Too Big To Fail” on the front of a pair of men’s underpants was not meant to mock the government bailout packages extended to the financial and automotive sectors.

“I did not do it in any way related to making a political statement of any kind,” said Newmyer, a longtime Washington, D.C. political consultant, who conceived of his risque idea last Thanksgiving and founded Silly Underwear LLC shortly thereafter. “As all of the discussion about too big to fail started to mushroom during the recent economic tsunami, I just kept thinking about the expression and it just occurred to me as a whimsical idea to put it on a pair of underpants and see what happens.”

The underwear retails for $20 and is primarily sold online at SillyUnderwear.com. Newmyer’s story first appeared in a Wall Street Journal blog, after which he said sales increased dramatically. However Newmyer refrained from releasing any sales figures.