Small business owners reveal top issue they want 2024 presidential candidates to address

New Goldman Sachs survey finds majority of small businesses owners are not satisfied with what they have heard so far on the campaign trail

U.S. small business owners plan on voting in droves come November, but most of them are not happy with what they have heard so far on the campaign trail and have zeroed in on the most important issue they want presumptive nominees President Biden and former President Trump to address.

A recent survey from Goldman Sachs, 10,000 Small Businesses Voices, found 96% of respondents said they will definitely or probably vote in the presidential election, and 20% of them said they are undecided about which candidate they will vote for.

Donald Trump and Joe Biden

Former President Trump and President Biden (Fox News)

A majority of small business owners do not feel that the candidates for president are talking enough about small business issues, with 55% who said they are dissatisfied with the way the candidates have been addressing small business issues compared to 27% who said they are satisfied.

Seventy-eight percent of owners said a candidate’s small business policy position is an important factor as they decide how to vote in the 2024 elections, and the respondents pointed to several issues that they do not believe are being sufficiently addressed by the candidates.

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The top issue small business owners want to hear the candidates tackle is inflation, with 73% who said the problem of soaring prices has not been addressed enough by the candidates.

Seventy-one percent of respondents said inflationary pressures have increased on businesses compared to just three months ago, and 49% said they’ve had to raise the prices on their goods or services over that period.

"Small business owners like me are asking candidates to prioritize small business issues this campaign season," said Perlla Deluca, owner and CEO of Southeast Constructors in Des Moines, Iowa. "At the top of the list is tackling inflation, which is squeezing every aspect of our small businesses. In my business, our costs are going up significantly for supplies, insurance and labor. I want to hear more ideas from candidates about controlling inflation."

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When asked which items are having a significant impact on their cost of doing business, 81% of small business owners pointed to the rising cost of labor, while 68% cited the increasing cost of commercial insurance. Sixty-seven percent listed the rising costs of goods and inputs as a pain point, and 63% listed the increasing costs related to employee benefits and health insurance.

"Small business owners are the first to feel the impact of inflation and last to receive reprieve; most small businesses lack scale to absorb price shocks and the capital and liquidity on their balance sheets to stave off the effects of inflation," said Asahi Pompey, Goldman Sachs’ global head of corporate engagement. "So, we consistently hear from small business owners across the nation that they’re feeling the hangover of inflation."

But not far behind inflation, small business owners said they want to hear the candidates address small business tax policy (72% cited), followed by the regulatory burden on small businesses (70% cited), access to affordable capital (66% cited) and workforce training (59% cited). 

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"We need to make it affordable to operate a small business in America. My costs have been going up across the board, from cost of goods, to transportation, to labor and to borrowing capital," Geraldine Keogh, owner of The Dessert Ladies and Biens Chocolate Centerpieces in Stirling, New Jersey.

Keogh added, "I am listening to candidates on both sides of the aisle, but thus far, I’m not hearing either address specific solutions to the issues that matter to me as a small business owner, such as inflation and access to capital."

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