Discover’s March Report: Small Business Outlook Tumbles

Small business ownersDiscover Card’s small business index measuring economic outlook took a 9.2 point dive to 75.7 in March, with a surge in owners who say their businesses are deteriorating.
The Small Business Watch index fell back to levels of a year ago.
Discover’s random survey of 750 small business owners did not register the largest month-to-month decline, but it revealed a troubling trend, said Ryan Scully, director of Discover’s business credit card, who commissions the monthly survey.
“We’ve seen bigger month-to-month drops, but there is clearly a pattern here: Small business owners don’t like what they’re seeing – both at home and in the larger economy – and they’re responding by pulling back, rather than just holding the line,” Scully said. “Tax season could be having an effect on the overall mood, especially because they’re still not seeing any relief from the government.”
More than half, or 53 percent, or respondents, said the economic climate will get worse in the next six months, compared to only 37 percent who answered that same in February. Of the remaining respondents, 20 percent said things are getting better, 20 percent said things are the same, and 6 percent are unsure.
The number of owners who said they are expanding their businesses shrank in March. Fifty-two percent said they would decrease spending, up from 43 percent in February, while 27 percent said they would make no changes, and 18 percent said they plan to increase spending.
And the outlook for the direction of the overall U.S. economy took a significantly more cynical turn. Fifty-eight percent said the economy is getting worse, up from 44 percent in February; while 22 percent think it is getting better, down from 31 percent the prior month; and 16 percent said it’s staying the same, versus 24 percent last month.
With tax season here, 72 percent of small business owners said they were not able to take advantage of tax breaks for their businesses or themselves for 2009, while 19 percent said they had, and 9 percent weren’t sure. Unfortunately for small businesses across the country, paying your taxes is one of the most important things that you need to think about. Regardless of how confusing the tax season can be, you need to know when certain taxes need to be paid so you have the ability to pay them on time. For any small businesses located in San Francisco, you may want to enlist the help of the San Francisco City Taxes deadline calendar so you can keep track of your payments. Small businesses should always request help if they are unsure about what to do during the tax season.
President Obama signed into law a jobs incentive bill March 18 that provides businesses with tax breaks based on new employees who had been previously jobless.
“This tax cut will be particularly helpful to small business owners,” Obama said. “Many of them are on the fence right now about whether to bring in that extra worker or two, or whether they should hire anyone at all. And this jobs bill should help make their decision that much easier. “

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