WHAT SAN DIEGO SMALL BUSINESSES NEED TO SUCCEED

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1 WHAT SAN DIEGO SMALL BUSINESSES NEED TO SUCCEED AUGUST 2012

2 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY The San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce is proud to release part two of the 2012 Small Business Outlook which focuses on what small businesses need to succeed. As the voice of business in San Diego, the Chamber feels that it s important to hear directly from small businesses about what they need most to help them grow and thrive in our region. This report What San Diego Small Businesses Need to Succeed - is two-fold, covering both general public policy factors that will make small businesses more successful, as well as specific business needs that will help small businesses succeed in 2012 and beyond. The report shows the following as the top four general public policy priorities for the San Diego small business community: 1. Road and infrastructure maintenance 2. More of a voice in local government 3. Stronger voice in Sacramento 4. Greater energy reliability and cost stability In terms of specific business needs, the following were priorities for the majority of small businesses: 1. Local economy improving 2. Opportunity to meet clients and customers 3. Streamlined regulations 4. Reduced business taxes The report makes it clear that San Diego small businesses need greater support in working with local, regional and statewide government. While the first report, the 2012 San Diego Small Business Outlook, showed that the regional business community had moved to a more positive outlook, this report shows an opportunity for local government and business organizations to provide greater support to small businesses. The priorities of our region s small businesses give the Chamber a clear direction for how to help San Diego s small businesses grow and succeed. The report is based on a survey of 500 small business people who own or manage firms with 50 or fewer employees in San Diego County. Small businesses decision makers were asked to prioritize general public policy needs, as well as specific needs for their business that will help make them successful for the remainder of 2012 and beyond. Data was provided by Competitive Edge Research & Communication, a national opinion research firm located in San Diego. Page 1

3 GENERAL PUBLIC POLICY BUSINESS NEEDS TOP TIER PRIORITIES The 2012 Small Business Outlook looked at the general needs of San Diego s small businesses, including public policy priorities, that will help make them successful for the remainder of 2012 and beyond. Road and Infrastructure Maintenance Repairing and maintaining streets, roads and infrastructure is the top priority for businesses. Slightly more than half regard maintenance as very or extremely important, with only 11% considering it unimportant. These attitudes do not appear to change based on demographics or location throughout the County. More Vocal at City Hall A second top priority for small businesses to success is to provide a stronger voice in local government for the regional business community. This does not refer only to San Diego City Hall but other local governments and issues throughout the County. More Vocal in Sacramento Additionally, becoming more vocal in Sacramento is another top priority for San Diego small businesses, with the majority of businesses advocating for a stronger voice in Sacramento. This may reflect the perception of California as a difficult state for businesses to grow. Greater Energy Reliability and Cost Stability Working to build more energy reliability and stability is another issue that is seen as very important for small businesses. Only 13% entirely dismiss energy as an issue with the vast majority agreeing that the issue is important and matters in their ability to be successful. Reliable Water Supply 53% of small businesses think that a sustainable water supply is also a very or extremely important issue. Page 2

4 GENERAL PUBLIC POLICY BUSINESS NEEDS MID-TIER PRIORITIES Investing in Public Education More than half of all small businesses rate public education as very or extremely important. Tourism Most of San Diego s small businesses see tourism as an important part of the success of the regional business community. Retaining Military Presence Nearly 70% of all small businesses feel that retaining a large military presence is somewhat to extremely important to their general ability to succeed. Developing a Larger Cluster of High Technology Firms San Diego small businesses rate developing a larger cluster of high technology firms as being important. Small firms with more than seven employees typically see nurturing high tech as very or extremely important. Page 3

5 SPECIFIC BUSINESS NEEDS TOP TIER PRIORITIES The 2012 Small Business Outlook also looked at what firms believe will make their specific business more successful in the remainder of 2012 and beyond. Local Economy Improving Nearly all small business people agree that their firm's success is significantly impacted by the local economy. Only 7% say what the region's economy does is unimportant, while two-thirds say it is very or extremely important to their success. Even so, the belief that the local economy needs to improve in order for firms to be more successful has subsided slightly since This indicates that the economy is perceived as having improved, though San Diego is not "out of the woods" yet. Opportunities to Meet Clients and Customers Increasing the opportunities to meet clients and customers is seen as important. Fifty-seven percent regard this as very or extremely important and only 14% dismiss it entirely. This small business need to get more exposure to clients and customers has not changed since Streamlining Government Regulations The need to streamline government regulations was seen as very important by 55% of all small firms, making it a top tier issue. Those who see the need to streamline regulations vary and tend to point the finger most at onerous regulations as the reason behind the need for more restructured regulations. Leading the list are generic taxes (17%), with permits also in the double digits (11%). Government Regulations That Need Streamlining (n=156) Permits, 11% Payroll/ Workman's Comp, 7% Planning/ Zoning, 6% Taxes, 18% Government departments/ Agencies policies, 5% Licensing, 4% Nothing/Don't Know, 10% Contracts, 4% Other, 21% Concentrate on small businesses, 2% Fines/Fees, 2% General bureaucracy, 3% Insurance, 3% Loans/ Financing, 4% Page 4

6 The other 70% ranges across a variety of other types of regulations but includes items such as payroll and workers compensation (7%) and planning and zoning (6%). The results were consistent with the general consensus that additional regulatory streamlining would help make their business more successful. Reduced Business Taxes In sync with the above findings related to regulations, reducing business taxes is another top tier issue for small business people in the County. Overall, 53% say it would be very or extremely important to decrease the taxes their firm pays. CONCLUSION The San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce looks forward to working with regional policy makers on the top priorities for small businesses in San Diego County. In addition to supporting policies which can help our regional economy grow and create jobs, the Chamber will continue to emphasize public road and infrastructure maintenance, greater energy and water reliability, streamlined regulations and reduced business taxes. This is a joint project between the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce and the County of San Diego. Report compiled by Competitive Edge Research & Communication. Page 5

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