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Small businesses keep a close eye on the election

The uncertainty that comes with a new occupant in the White House is among the biggest worries of the nation's small-business owners, topped only by concerns about growing their own enterprises.

More than a quarter, or 27 percent, ranked the latter as their primary worry for 2016, while 25 percent pointed to the upcoming presidential election, a survey released Monday found.

Commissioned by Capital One (COF) Spark Business, the findings are based on polls conducted in the latter half of March of 401 U.S. businesses with annual revenues of less than $10 million.

Thirteen percent said they were most concerned with hiring and keeping talented employees. Another 13 percent listed keeping up with the competition as their primary concern, while 12 percent said it's the regulatory environment.

Small Business Saturday shines light on mom and pop shops

Not surprisingly, perhaps, how small businesses are taxed was the top issue for 29 percent of those surveyed in evaluating the presidential candidates. Eighteen percent checked the importance of economic growth, and 17 percent said the cost of health care would be their primary issue in looking at White House hopefuls.

Those running small businesses are less cheery about the climate they're operating in. The survey found a nine-point drop in the percentage of business owners who see conditions as "good" or "excellent" compared to one year ago, a summary of the findings said.

In the latest questioning, 7 percent termed conditions as "excellent," 34 percent described them as "good," 38 percent said "fair," while 19 percent called them "poor."

In addition, fewer businesses are planning to hire, with 26 percent reporting plans to add to their workforce in the next six months, compared to 32 percent the same time last year.

When given a choice between handling their business finances or cleaning up the place, 73 percent chose the former, while 22 percent said they'd rather clean than calculate, and 5 percent didn't know.

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