U.S. Bank has just released the results from its 2012 Small Business Annual Survey which provides an in-depth look into the concerns, outlooks and challenges that are currently on the minds of small business owners.

This is the third such annual survey which U.S. Bank has conducted, and the survey included 3,220 small business owner participants from 25 states; to be included in the survey, the small business owners had to make less than $10 million in annual revenues.

The survey assessed in particular how small business owners feel about current economic conditions, business conditions, business challenges, 2012 election issues, the balance of work and life, and banking relationships. Some of the key findings from the survey include:

On Economic Conditions

Small business owners in the year 2012 have a slightly improved outlook on the U.S. economy with 71% still believing that the U.S. is in a recession – which is a 7% decrease from 2011 and an 18% decrease from 2010. Additionally, 33% of those surveyed felt that their state’s economic condition was stronger than the overall U.S. economy – an improvement of 14% from last year’s results.

On 2012 Election Issues

When asked what business issues will have the greatest impact on their choice of president for the 2012 elections, the majority of participants chose healthcare/Medicare followed by jobs/unemployment, taxes and federal deficit/debt. However, education was also a top concern for participants in Washington, California and Minnesota while environmental protection was a major concern for business owners in Oregon and California.

On Business Conditions

Regarding business conditions, 20% of survey participants reported plans to increase the number of employees in the next 12 months. When asked about the current financial health of their business, 69% of owners rated their business as in good to excellent health – which is a slight improvement over the 64% who felt the same in 2011.

On the Work/Life Balance

Small business owners also revealed positive findings in maintaining their work and life balance. While 65% said they were almost always on the go, 57% also agreed that they felt it was important to give back to the community while 47% felt that they had plenty of time for friends and family. Although 45% of those surveyed said their life is their business, 51% reported that they expected to take at least 2 weeks of vacation this year while 54% said they can take time off whenever they want.

On Business Challenges

When asked if economic uncertainly was still the most significant challenge facing their business for the last 2 years, 27% of business owners agreed – the same number as in the 2011 survey. When asked if poor sales was the biggest challenge over the last 2 years, 12% of business owners agreed, a decrease from the 17% of participants who agreed with that statement in  2011.

On Banking Relationships

Concerning banking relationships, small business owners reported that they expect their business bank to deal in a transparent and straightforward manner and to be flexible. Additionally, participants also desire services to help them manage financial transactions and would like more access to readily available money. While small business owners expect these things from their bank, they also wish there were improvements in these types of business bank services as well.

To see the complete report, visit the 2120 U.S. Bank Small Business Annual Survey report page.

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