Steve Strauss: May 27, 2016

Bank of America Survey Finds Only Three Percent of Small Business Owners See Education as Most Important Hiring Factor

Findings Suggest Small Business Owners Concerned About Health Care Costs and Minimum Wage



Small Business Expert, USA Today Columnist

This month, Bank of America released the spring 2016 Small Business Owner Report, a semi-annual study exploring the concerns, aspirations and perspectives of 1,000 small business owners (SBOs) across the country. This iteration of the report explores the state of small business, including attitudes toward the overall economy, growth expectations and how the upcoming elections are impacting SBOs’ future plans.

According to the survey, nearly half (49%) of SBOs said skill level is the most important factor when hiring a potential candidate and only 3% said education. The report found that the characteristics SBOs value most in an employee are trustworthiness (75%) and a strong work ethic (70%), while characteristics such as tech savviness (27%) and a knowledge of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) (12%), were less valued. Of those SBOs who are planning to hire this year (22%), the majority (54%) are hiring part-time candidates.

Small business expert Steve Strauss is available to discuss hiring trends and the emphasis on skill over education.

Some topics Steve can specifically address include:

·         The changing face of the workforce – Only 3% of those surveyed said education was the most important factor when hiring a potential candidate. Skill level is the most important factor in hiring according to 49% of SBOs, followed by fit with company culture (24%) and previous work experience (24%). There is also a preference for hiring Gen-X employees (47%) over millennials (26%) and baby boomers (8%).

·         Trustworthiness is the most wanted trait when hiring – While the majority of SBOs value trustworthiness (75%) the most when hiring a candidate, other top characteristics include being hardworking (70%), problem solving (51%), logical thinking (47%) and strong communication (45%).

·         Minimum wage, health care costs raise concerns – If the minimum wage was to be raised, 57% of SBOs would need to take financial measures to adjust for an increase, such as increasing the price of products or services (23%). In terms of health care costs, 74% of SBOs reported a concern that health care costs will impact their business. Since last year, health care costs have risen for 69% of SBOs who offer coverage.

·         SBOs hiring part-time and full-time workers – Of those who hired employees last year, they hired evenly full-time and part-time workers (52% and 51% respectively). Looking ahead, majorities plan to hire both part-time workers (54%) as well as full-time workers (51%). Twenty-six percent plan to add freelancers, independent contractors or skilled specialists.

·         SBOs are concerned about the upcoming elections More than two-thirds (67%) report the upcoming presidential election will affect their business “a lot” or “somewhat.” When voting, SBOs are taking both personal and business considerations into account. Roughly one-third give more weight to their personal views, while 15% approach voting from a business perspective. More than half take both into consideration evenly. The top issues SBOs take into account when voting are: taxes, health care policy, and the economy and job growth.


Steven D. Strauss, often called “the country’s leading small business expert,” is an internationally recognized author, lawyer, and speaker. Steve is the author of 15 books. Steve’s highly syndicated business column, Ask an Expert, appears weekly at He is also the small business columnist for Microsoft, and AT&T who calls him “America’s Small Business Expert.” A highly sought after commentator and media guest, Steve has been featured on CNN, CNBC, Bloomberg Television, The O’Reilly Factor, and the BBC. He has been a regular guest on MSNBC’s small business show, Your Business. Steve has been seen in many magazines and newspapers, including Time, Inc., Entrepreneur, New York, The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune, The New York Daily News, and scores of others. Steve regularly speaks to groups the world over regarding business matters, including a recent visit to the United Nations. He has also recently acted as the small business spokesperson for Bank of America, Humana Insurance, and Capitol One, among others. Steve is the president of The Strauss Group, Inc: Strauss Law Firm, Strauss Seminar Co., and Strauss Syndication. He graduated from UCLA, the Claremont Graduate School, the Coro Foundation, and the McGeorge School of Law.


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