More than 60 Percent of U.S. Small Business Respondents are “Discouraged” or “Disgusted” with Government Leaders, Finds New Sage Survey

ATLANTA (March 24, 2016) Sage, a market leader in accounting, payroll and payment systems, today announced findings of the Sage 2016 U.S. Election Survey. The survey of nearly 400 small and medium businesses (SMBs) reveals strong dissatisfaction with government leaders, with 63 percent of respondents saying they are "discouraged" and 61 percent saying they are "disgusted" with what is happening in Washington, D.C.

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Respondents' political affiliations ran the gamut, with 36 percent identifying as Republicans, 14 percent as Democrats and 20 percent as Independents. Fifteen percent did not identify with any party, and no other affiliations (Tea Party, Socialist, Libertarian) totaled more than 6 percent.

More than 95 percent of employers are small businesses with fewer than 50 workers, and startups and small businesses created the majority of jobs during this most recent economic recovery.

"As a small and medium business champion, we wanted to take the pulse of U.S. small businesses—especially during this major election year—to better understand the issues they want addressed by Washington," said Connie Certusi, executive vice president and managing director, Sage U.S. "Small businesses deserve a bigger voice, so Sage wants to make sure their opinions are heard. And this survey makes clear that small business owners, regardless of political affiliation, are dissatisfied with government leadership."

Conducted in January 2016, the Sage 2016 U.S. Election Survey exposes a significant disconnect between where SMBs perceive government leaders spend their time and the priorities and policy initiatives on which SMBs want government leaders to focus. A majority of respondents feel the federal government focuses on the wrong special interest groups (SIGs), pursues the wrong missions and implements the wrong policies.

Conflicting to-do lists

Business issues dominate respondents’ answers about the most important issues facing America, with excessive regulation (14 percent), taxes (13 percent) and the economy (12 percent) as the top concerns.

When it comes to policy making, respondents want government to address tax reform, the deficit and social security. At the bottom of their priority list is global warming, income inequality and raising the minimum wage.

Instead, respondents see government leaders working on gun control, global warming and raising the minimum wage. They see one of their top priorities—fixing social security—at the bottom of Washington’s list.

Wrong special interest groups

Respondents were asked to rank SIGs in order of importance to them. Next, they were asked which SIGs they perceive the government thinks are most and least important. This is where the first signs of a significant disconnect appeared.

Their most important SIGs are small business, the military and the middle class. They selected unions, the wealthy and government employees as the least important special interest groups.

Respondents feel government considers these SIGs most important: big business, minorities and government employees. They believe government leaders consider these SIGs least important: religious groups, the middle class and small businesses.

So, two of the SIGs most important to respondents—small business and the middle class—are viewed as being least important to government.

Misplaced priorities

Sage 2016 U.S. Election Survey respondents want Washington to focus on the economy, energy and healthcare. They want government to pay less attention to the environment, labor and crime.

When asked what they perceive the current government's priorities to be, they see one area of agreement: healthcare. Respondents also say politicians are ignoring their top priority—the economy—and spending too much time on things they feel are not urgent, like environment and labor issues.

Survey methodology and respondents

For the Sage 2016 U.S. Election Survey, Sage commissioned Qualtrics, a leading research firm, to survey 383 Sage customers in mid- to late January 2016. All respondents were with small companies, with 82 percent employing 20 or fewer people.

Fifty-five percent of respondents are male and 45 percent are female. Most (64 percent) have at least a four-year college degree.

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Sage is a market leader for integrated accounting, payroll, and payment systems, supporting the ambition of the world’s entrepreneurs. Sage began as a small business in the U.K. 30 years ago, and over 13,000 colleagues now support millions of entrepreneurs, across 23 countries, as they power the global economy. We reinvent and simplify business accounting through brilliant technology, working with a thriving community of entrepreneurs, business owners, tradespeople, accountants, partners, and developers. And as a FTSE 100 business, we are active in supporting our local communities and invest in making a real difference through the philanthropy of the Sage Foundation.