RICHMOND, Va. (WSET) — Virginia's small business owners are feeling some renewed optimism as the near year gets into motion, according to new survey data from Goldman Sachs.
Goldman Sachs' 10,000 Small Businesses Voices looked at the state of small businesses across the county and in Virginia.
Despite ongoing economic challenges facing employers across the country, the survey said that small businesses are planning to grow in 2023 and are driving economic confidence.
In 2023, 82% of small Virginia business owners expect to create new jobs (49%) or maintain the same number of jobs (33%), while 89% of small business owners nationally expect to create or maintain jobs in the next year.
The survey also found that only 16% of Virginia small businesses, and 9% of small businesses nationally, have laid off employees in the last three months.
“During the pandemic, small businesses like mine had to innovate and remain nimble to survive and thrive,” said Sydney Rieckhoff, owner of Almost Famous Popcorn with locations in Cedar Rapids and Des Moines, Iowa, and a member of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Voices community. “Unfortunately, the historic challenges presented by the pandemic made clear that government programs designed to help small businesses have not evolved alongside them. Now, we are navigating our new normal with outdated tools and programs to fit yesterday's needs.”
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“I speak for my fellow small business owners in urging Democrats and Republicans in Congress to prioritize our needs by working across the aisle to modernize the Small Business Administration,” Rieckhoff said.
Despite this, the survey revealed that 82% of Virginia small business owners and 72% nationally are finding that inflationary pressures have worsened in recent months.
When asked about the most significant problem facing small businesses, the most common response was difficulty finding and retaining qualified employees. For the 42% of Virginia small businesses and 35% of small business owners nationally who cited this as the primary challenge, the most significant reason was high labor costs.
When asked about the current state of government programs designed to help small businesses, the surveyed owners were largely united in their assessments:
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Goldman Sachs 10,000 Businesses Voices is also urging Congress to take bipartisan action to modernize the programs, services, and tax credits available to small businesses by reauthorizing the Small Business Administration (SBA) for the first time in 23 years.
97% of small business owners surveyed in Virginia, along with 94% nationally, say it is important for Congress to modernize the SBA.
“The results of our survey illuminate the very real economic challenges small business owners across the U.S. continue to face as they emerge from the pandemic crisis,” said Joe Wall, National Director of Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Voices. “Congress can help by joining in a bipartisan effort to reauthorize the Small Business Administration to modernize government programs that help these business owners navigate our new normal.”
This data is based on a survey of 1,838 Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses participants, including 39 Virginia small business owners, conducted by Babson College and David Binder Research from January 23 to January 26, 2023. The survey included small business owners from 48 U.S. states.