While just 20 percent of small businesses report plans to add additional employees this year, new research shows those that are hiring face several hurdles.
The study by TD Bank found that more than 40 percent of small business owners who are trying to add new staff are having a hard time finding qualified candidates, while 20 percent are finding it difficult to come up with job offers that include competitive compensation packages.
Despite 35 percent of small businesses being understaffed, just 21 percent plan to add at least one employee in the upcoming months.
"Uncertainty about the future path of fiscal policy and the outlook for the global economy will keep businesses cautious about investing and hiring in the upcoming months," said Fred Graziano, head of Regional Commercial Banking, Government Banking and Small Business for TD Bank.
The study found that declining sales is the biggest challenge facing small business owners over the next six months.
"Identifying creative ways to boost sales revenue while keeping an eye on expense growth and cash flow is a good strategy to follow for managing a business in this current economy," Graziano said. "That's why it's important to lead a strong and innovative team of employees that positively contribute to a business's goals and objectives."
Other concerns keeping small business owners up at night include rising health care and insurance costs, cash flow worries, pressure from larger competitors and rising energy costs.
According to the study, small business owners are of differing opinions on how they define success. Nearly a quarter of those surveyed believe success is doing something they enjoy, while another quarter of small business owners thinks it's having a stable work-life balance.
Being able to continuously increase profitability and job creation in the local community were other ways they define success.
"Entrepreneurship helps people fulfill their dreams of turning a creative idea or passion into a successful business, regardless of how they best define it," Graziano said.
The research was based on surveys of 500 small business owners along the East Coast.