The data of the fifth biennial assessment of rural small business trends, needs and concerns in Nebraska has been gathered and analyzed. The results are included in "Their Needs and Thoughts: Results of the Fifth Biennial Small Business Needs Assessment," a report by Dena Beck, senior project leader and loan specialist, Center for Rural Affairs' Rural Enterprise Assistance Project (REAP).
Marketing assistance and startup capital were top concerns for respondents, as in past surveys. In 2016, a new question was added to the survey revealing a new common concern among rural, small businesses: the cost of hiring an employee, including FICA and unemployment insurance. Employee quality issues ranked second, and employee/applicant quantity issues ranked third.
Business owners responded they need marketing and advertising assistance when it comes to training or assistance. Assistance with social networking, bookkeeping and succession planning all saw a rise in responses, as compared to surveys in past years.
The 2016 Small Business Needs Assessment had the greatest response rate yet of 587. The survey has been administered by Center for Rural Affairs' REAP program every two years since 2008.
Sampled were the opinions of 248 existing businesses, 45 new businesses (within the first year of startup), and 47 transitioning businesses (within ten years of exiting the business) from across rural Nebraska. The assessment also includes responses from resource providers and lenders who serve Nebraska businesses.
The survey is used internally to ensure that staff are delivering the products and services our businesses need.
The information is shared with Chambers of Commerce, the Nebraska Economic Developers Association, local service clubs, development districts and community colleges to inform their efforts as well. The hope is to broaden the survey to surrounding states with similar demographics and economies.