Small business optimism on the rise

We’ve read and heard a lot this winter about how the weather is affecting business, often in less-than-welcome ways.

SurePayroll Inc., which provides online payroll services to small businesses nationwide, says its February survey found optimism slightly up amid a generally frozen hiring picture matching the unusually bitter cold weather we’ve seen throughout much of the country. 

Optimism about the small business economy was at 69 percent, according to the survey, up 4 percent from January. Month over month, hiring and the average paycheck were each down 0.1 percent, and one in three small business owners said the severe weather was responsible for a slowdown. However, the lack of hiring seems to go deeper than that, as three in five said the cost of salary and wages is still the biggest barrier to bringing on new staff. 

“The delay in hiring may be more than just an inclement weather delay,” said SurePayroll CEO and President Michael Alter. “Yes, it’s been a harsh winter, but we’ve had them before. The underlying problem could be that there isn’t enough demand to justify new employees. (Still), while we may not be surprised based on our numbers and weak government jobs reports over the last couple months, our small-business customers continue to hold to their optimistic entrepreneurial spirit.”

The survey also found that one in three are having trouble finding qualified candidates for jobs. If cost were not an issue and they were to hire, small business owners ranked the need for sales and marketing personnel as their top choices.

“It’s an unfortunate Catch-22 when you consider that small businesses can’t afford to hire sales and marketing people, yet these are the types of positions that drive revenue,” Alter said.

About the Author


Lon Matejczyk

Lon is the former publisher of the Colorado Springs Business Journal and Colorado Springs Military Newspaper Group.He has served in leadership roles at various newspapers in Iowa, Florida and Wisconsin. Lon received his Bachelor of Arts in Communications from the University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire and attended the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University. Earlier in his career, Lon spent several years as a sea captain and held a 100-ton Coast Guard license. Lon is a former rugby player, referee and administrator and now coaches under 13 year old kids. Lon has served on the boards of numerous community and business organizations including Colorado Springs Leadership Institute, Peak Venture Group, CS Quality of Life Indicators Business Index Committee, Junior Achievement and is a member of The Colorado Thirty Group.  Lon was given the “Making the Pikes Peak region a better place to live work and play” award by the CS Chamber of Commerce, was the VFW Post 1’s business citizen of the year.