Philly Gets a “C” in Small Business Friendliness

Most predict strong finances, but 40 percent are having difficulty hiring.



Philadelphia’s small business friendliness is on the upswing. The city got a “C,” according to the most recent Small Business Sentiment Survey from Thumbtack, but that’s a nice improvement from the “D” the city earned last year.

The study is the product of Thumbtack surveying 10,000 small businesses nationwide. For Philly, it found big one-year improvements in ease of hiring (C- to B), employment regulations (C- to B) and friendliness regarding licensing and fees (C to B.)

The small businesses provided a rosy financial outlook: 77.7 percent predicted that finances will be a little better or substantially better three months from now. More than a quarter (26.4 percent) expect revenues to climb more than 10 percent over the next three months, and 47.3 percent expect revenues to jump 1 percent to 10 percent during that period.

Still, hiring remains an issue. When asked how difficult or easy it is to fill job openings, 37.9 percent categorized it as somewhat difficult or very difficult. Just 16.7 percent called it “very easy.” Meanwhile, 67 percent have not attempted to fill full- or part-time jobs over the past three months.

Here’s a list of the top problems cited by the survey respondents:

  • Access to credit: 18.5 percent
  • Uncertain economic conditions: 15.7 percent
  • Poor sales: 12 percent
  • Competition from big businesses or overseas: 12 percent
  • Other: 9.3 percent
  • Taxes: 8.3 percent

But stats just paint part of the picture. Here are some quotes from small business owners surveyed:

  • “At the height of my business, I was doing quite well. Eight years later, it is down significantly. Been that way since the 2008 financial crisis. Hasn’t changed much since then,” said a piano teacher in Levittown, Pa.
  • “Banks are actually saying no to small businesses at an alarming rate. How can you improve this economy without small businesses?” said a caterer in Upper Darby, Pa.
  • “As a CPA, the increased complexity of the tax code brings me more clients,” said a tax preparer in Norristown, Pa.
  • “Competitors are dropping prices and quality causing it to be impossible for us to sell work. The profession we are in has so much regulation that if you chose to not adhere to the required compliance issues, you can cut your prices significantly and force legitimate business to suffer,” said a roof installer in Medford, N.J.