NEW YORK (AP) — Small business owners are probably glad to put 2013 into the books.
For many, it was a frustrating year of waiting. Waiting to learn about the new health care law. Waiting for lawmakers to solve budget disagreements. And waiting for the economy to improve. Many put off big decisions like purchasing equipment and hiring as they sought clarity. But in the end, owners fought inertia and appear to be looking forward to 2014. Hiring seems to be showing an uptick and lending to small businesses is improving.
Here's a look back at some of the big issues small business owners faced this year:
Small businesses began 2013 with questions and by the year's end, there were few answers.
Companies struggled to sign up for insurance for employees on federally run websites. After a series of computer glitches and delays, the government said businesses would have to buy through brokers, agents and insurance companies until November 2014.
Coverage that goes into effect Jan. 1 or later must conform to the law. Many businesses sidestepped the requirements by renewing policies in 2013.
Owners had mixed reviews about coverage on government websites. Some with mostly younger workers found they'll be paying more than expected. The law is designed to lower premiums for older and sicker workers by including younger, healthier ones in the pool of insured people. Many owners were disappointed by the limited choice of plans.
However, there were some positive reviews. Some owners said they were pleased with the premiums they found on the websites because they were comparable to the rates they were already paying.
Experts said it will take at least a year for businesses to know how the law will affect them.
The $85 billion in budget cuts that took effect March 1 hurt small businesses with federal contracts. Some lost revenue and had to lay off workers. Companies like retailers whose customers include federal workers also lost revenue. Businesses in states with a large concentration of government facilities, including Virginia and California, bore the brunt.
The government shutdown and deadlock in Congress over the budget in October was more harmful to small businesses than larger companies. Some federal contractors couldn't get paid. Companies that wanted Small Business Administration-backed loans had to wait longer for approvals.