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Steven Tannehill: What do businesses want, anyway?

Entrepreneur’s corner

Posted: April 17, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: April 17, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Steven Tannehill Steven Tannehill
Steven Tannehill

This is part two of a two-part column.

In my last article I introduced you to the state-wide survey of small businesses that Small Business California conducts every year, which many SBDC clients participate in, and I talked about some of the key findings. In this article I’m going to drill down a little deeper into some of those findings.

Perhaps a little surprising as a survey result was that the #1 issue concerning California small businesses after the economy was “The availability and rising cost of health care,” with 81 percent of respondents rating it a high or top priority.

That is actually one of the issues we hear quite often from people starting or running a small business: How do they provide affordable health insurance for themselves, their family and their workers when one is not part of a large group plan?

Even when coverage is obtained, it can be expensive and costs in general are increasing significantly faster than inflation and faster than their revenues are growing. It is a major concern to California small businesses, especially in light of the changes coming next year, when most features of the new Health Care Law go into effect.

In response to this concern, the SBDC maintains access to resources that can help businesses find solutions to this problem, and continues to sponsor quarterly workshops with independent experts and conference calls with senior administration officials speaking about the new Health Care Law, the current status of its implementation, and answering questions from small business owners on how the law effects them.

Our conference call with the SBA and Health & Human Services is scheduled for Thu, April 18 at 10 a.m.

The other issues that were ranked as a top or high priority by small businesses were the quality of public education (71 percent), excessive regulation of small businesses (69 percent), reducing state taxes (64 percent), repairing the state’s infrastructure (60 percent), and awarding state contracts to small businesses (54 percent).

Two issues that were top priorities in past surveys but are no longer are access to capital (47 percent) and immigration (44 percent), indicating perhaps that a combination of improving company fortunes and improvements in the banking sector have led to more liquidity from lenders, and the fact that immigration has slowed notably as a result of the recent slowdown in the economy.

Other issues that were mentioned but were not a top or high priority were the cost of energy (48 percent), worker’s compensation system (45 percent), finding qualified workers (44 percent), and encouraging international trade (30 percent).

Our SBDC team includes experts that can help you get certified to bid on state contracts as well as identify the best sources of capital for your firm and help you build your export business.

Some of the items at the top of small businesses’ concern lists are more macro in nature, but I think are valuable for all of us as stakeholders in the California economy to recognize as we work to make California the best place in the country to do business.

Steven Tannehill is the Executive Director of the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) hosted by College of the Canyons. For more information about the SBDC please visit or call (661) 362-5900. To make an appointment with an SBDC business advisor please email Our consulting services are provided at no cost to the small business community.



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