Something is making small business owners and entrepreneurs unhappy with how things are run in the city of Columbia.
Just a year ago, Thumbtack—a website dedicated to helping people hire professionals for a variety of projects—conducted the Small Business Friendliness Survey and found that participants rated Columbia as a good place for business and entrepreneurship. The city got an overall grade of a B+ and ranked #19 out of 78 cities.
This year's survey results plummeted drastically. Participants gave Columbia an overall grade of a D+, and the city was ranked #69 in the nation, making it one of the ten least friendly cities nationwide.
Thumbtack's Small Business Friendliness Survey examined eight main categories:
- Licensing: Forms and fees required to start a business. For many, obtaining a license and complying with the rules can be unnecessarily difficult, according to the survey.
- Taxes: This includes tax rates, regulations, and complexity.
- Labor Regulations: This looks at the ease with which small businesses can hire new employees.
- Health and Safety: Ranging from insurance rules and policies for employees to safety codes, these regulations particularly affect home improvement and wellness businesses.
- Zoning: This has to do with the ease with which new businesses may acquire building permits.
- Training: Training and networking opportunities offered by local government and organizations.
- Environmental Rules: These policies are most likely to affect home improvement, mowing, landscaping, and event planning.
- Government Websites: Websites that should help small businesses comply with rules and regulations, as well as provide information about working in the community.
Columbia ranked well with the Licensing and Zoning experiences. Participants in the survey found Columbia's zoning policies to be "friendly," giving it a grade of A+. Of the participants who were required to have a license, the majority found the process to be "easy," giving the city a B+ in that category.
It seems Columbia's pitfalls come in the Government Website experiences and with the overall licensing requirements. Seventy percent of respondents had either never used a government website or did not have a "positive experience" with the sites they had used. To add to this, many respondents felt that the licensing requirements were "unfriendly," meaning that there were too many regulations. This is not to be confused with the positive experience of actually obtaining the license, once business owners met the requirements. Both the Website and the Licensing categories received grades of D+, due to these responses.
Although the responses on the Thumbtack survey were poor this year, this should not discourage small business owners and entrepreneurs from continuing to make Columbia their home. The business community reported that Columbia has plenty of room for growth on training and networking programs, and if these were to improve, Columbia's ranking could rise again.
Make sure to check out the full findings of Thumbtack's Small Business Friendliness Survey.
Why do you think Columbia's ratings dropped so dramatically? Let us know in the comments below!