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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Sunday, Oct. 26, 2014

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Nearly three-quarters of small business owners say they expect a "good" year in 2013.
Nearly three-quarters of small business owners say they expect a "good" year in 2013.

Small business execs weigh in on Obamacare

Regardless of the impact of the Affordable Care Act, the members of the board of directors of the Council of Small Business Executives (COSBE) are remarkably bullish about their prospects for 2013.

According to a new BizTimes survey, 74.1 percent of the respondents say 2013 will be a "good" year for their company. Only 11.1 percent are forecasting a "bad" year.

Meanwhile, 88.9 percent of the executives are forecasting growth in their company's revenues in 2013. Of those expecting revenue growth, nearly 15 percent are expecting growth of more than 20 percent.

Fifty percent of the respondents plan to add to their workforce this year, while 46.2 percent will maintain the status quo for staffing and only 3.8 percent plan to cut staff.

Some other interesting results in the survey included:

  • 55.6 percent plan to hire temporary help in 2013.
  • 51.9 percent plan to invest in significant new technology or equipment.
  • 66.7 percent have a social media strategy.
  • 59.3 percent have a leadership succession plan or exit strategy.

Twenty-seven of the 28 members of the COSBE board responded to the survey.

The COSBE is administered by the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce (MMAC) and includes small business executives from a wide range of industries.

Many of the COSBE board members are not certain about how Obamacare will affect their companies or how their firms will respond.

"We are under 50 employees. However, that does not necessarily mean we will not have an issue based upon the formula utilized to determine your FTE (full-time equivalent) count, so at this time we are going to continue to offer benefits to our employees as usual," said Dale Boehm, president and chief executive officer at Caspian Technologies in Waukesha.

"It's very hard to tell how Obamacare will impact our company. We're listening closely. We have strong benefits so all our employees are offered a comprehensive suite of health care benefits. What we worry about is the increased cost of providing those benefits. A significant increase on the cost of providing benefits will create a hardship that will impact the organization and our employees," said Paul Borawski, CEO of Milwaukee-based ASQ.

"We are in the process of investigating what this will actually mean for our industry. We have always offered an attractive benefit package in order to attract top talent. That will not change," said Jeff Tredo, principal at Korb Tredo Architects in Milwaukee.

"We are having an outside firm prepare an analysis on the potential impact of Obamacare and what our various options might be," said Paul Sweeney, owner at PS Capital Partners LLC in Milwaukee.

"We anticipate no direct impact from Obamacare on the hiring and capital investment decisions of the firm. We are currently experiencing an indirect impact as a result of our clients' unwillingness to expand in a period of such legislative and regulatory uncertainty," said Thomas Luken, CPA and president at Kolb+Co. S.C., Brookfield.

Bottom line: if you're not yet exactly sure how Obamacare will affect your company, you have plenty of good company.

Steve Jagler is executive editor of BizTimes Milwaukee.

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