While small business owners consider finding appropriate

skilled labor a challenge to their growth, they are also

deeply involved in training their existing staff through a

variety of approaches, from in-house one-on-one training

to external group classes.

Public-private sector partnerships, especially with community

colleges, offer an effective approach to address employee

and business owner skills in a manner that both increases the

potential growth of small businesses and provides a source

of qualified labor to support that growth.

Health Care

Though more than 90% of those surveyed are not subject

to requirements under current healthcare regulations, over

half offer health care to at least some of their employees.

Respondents see it as 'the right thing to do,' a competitive

advantage, and an important retention tool. While it

would seem that this could be a deterrent to hiring, very

few respondents view providing health care coverage as a

challenge to hiring. Those who do not provide health care

cite the dollar cost as the biggest barrier.


Small business owners recognize the importance of technological

tools to support the growth of their businesses.

At the same time, owners concede that knowledge gaps

and cost concerns related to staying up to date with what is

available hinder adaption. Across all respondents, cost-related

issues account for nearly half of the most significant

technology issues currently facing these companies.


Small business owners are innovators, active in research and

development, and using innovation as a means of growing.

Of 10KSB respondents, all sharing an explicit desire to grow,

35% are engaged in research and development in a new

product or service, 46% are in the process of launching a

new product or service, and 62% are improving the quality

of an existing product or service. Small business owners

desire and need better information about ecosystem

resources available to support their innovation activities,

which could also include guidance in the protection of intellectual



Running through many of these issue areas is the common

thread of knowledge gaps that need to be addressed to

overcome these challenges, for both the business owners

and the other stakeholders in the ecosystem, including

lenders, legislators, regulators, and other resource

providers. Many of these gaps can be addressed through

training, education, and greater availability and transparency

of information.

While improved and expanded training and education is

a key path to enabling the success of small businesses, it

is not sufficient. Changes in policy and practice are also

needed to enhance the business environment, reflecting

the capacities of the vast majority of companies in the

country: the small ones. Small businesses—enabled by

education and support systems—have the power to transform


Anecdotal evidence suggests that many entrepreneurial

training programs would benefit from expanding their

teaching or training emphasis from the development of

technology-based businesses to the development of businesses

through technology.

Cybersecurity and intellectual property are two particular

challenge areas for small businesses. More than 40% of

survey respondents feel ill-prepared for cyber threats, and

nearly one in five has been the victim of a cyber attack. Less

than half of survey respondents know how to protect their

intellectual property. The business owners desire and need

better information about ecosystem resources available to

support their innovation activities.


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