The Top 5 Concerns for Small Business Owners in 2013

As 2012 comes to a close and the new year looms ahead, small business owners have a got a lot on their minds, and it isn’t just their holiday sales. According to the Bank of America Small Business Owner Report put out last Thursday, the majority of the nation’s small business owners are wary about the economic outlook in 2013.

Which issues were the most pressing according to the report? Here is a rundown:

1. The Effectiveness of the U.S. Government Leadership. A total of 68% of respondents reported that the ability of our leadership to, well… lead!, is a major concern heading into 2013. With all the posturing and finger pointing that we have witnessed over the past two years in particular, this is not surprising. It underscores a rising tide of apathy and a collective vote of no confidence that many Americans are holding, even across party lines.

2. The Cost of Commodities. Another major concern that affects businesses of all stripes is an impending rise of commodity prices. The commodity price charts, for products such as oil, wheat, and corn, h like a roller coaster ride this whole year. A current business owner who was in business in 2008, when the cost of commodities skyrocketed upward, would understandably be uneasy. Indeed, 66% of small business owners listed in as a primary concern in 2013.

3. The Cost of Healthcare. Even with the Making Healthcare Affordable Act set to go into affect in 2014, many owners of small companies ( a full 65% of those surveyed) are still very worried about the rising cost of healthcare, and it’s little wonder why. The cost of healthcare continues to outpace wages and inflation going into 2013.

4. Consumer Spending. Whether we like it or not, in America consumer spending drives the nation’s economic growth. So when consumers start restraining their spending it doesn’t bode well for the businesses they frequent, nor the economy at large. According to the NFIB Small Business Optimism Survey, weak sales is still the reported as the number one business problem for 22% of owners surveyed. According to the Bank of America survey, 64% of small business owners are concerned about consumer spending, and it’s a trend that will likely continue well into 2013.

5. The Strength of the Dollar. The fallout of doing business in a global economy is that profits are strongly tied to international currency exchange rates. The strength of the U.S. dollar rounds out the top five small business concerns at 63%. This is likely do to the fact that all the uncertainty surrounding the U.S. economy as well as other major global economies, such as the European Union, create volatility. For some, a weak dollar means more expensive global purchasing and outsourcing relationships. For a few businesses, a strong dollar may be a problem- especially if they rely on foreign customers ave looked.

Shoddy Paperwork in the Race to Foreclose; Now Big Banks Face Nationwide Moratorium

The spate of foreclosures in the U.S. might be coming to a halt. Homeowners have long been complaining that banks use improper documentation to seize their homes. Their clamoring became so loud that lawmakers and banks have finally taken notice. Now, several of the big guns in banking have declared a nation-wide moratorium on foreclosure action.

 

 

Bank of America, GMAC Mortgage, and JP Morgan Chase have suspended foreclosures while they investigate the situation. Under duress from lawyers and judges, banks have admitted to unlawful behavior. Flooded with foreclosure affidavits, banks allowed their employees to sign documents without reading them. For example, GMAC admitted that employees signed thousands of affidavits without knowing their contents.

The underlying problem is the verification process. Before banks can submit documents for legal foreclosure proceedings, they have to check the information contained within the documents. Bank employees have reported that they failed to verify information such as amounts owed by borrowers, and names of banks currently holding the mortgage. Additionally, lawmakers have uncovered suspicious circumstances such as clear forgeries of officials’ names and notarizations of signatures by out-of-state notaries.

Housing experts expect the foreclosure suspensions to strongly affect the market. While the legal system sorts out the problems, properties involved in foreclosure will probably not be sold.

The banks attribute their sloppy paperwork to the rapid pace at which they have been processing foreclosures. Now, as they backtrack and reassess the particulars of each foreclosure, both the foreclosure rate and the housing economy should slow significantly.

(Image Credit

Sources:

The New York Times

The Wall Street Journal