2016 Election Causing Many Small-Business Owners to Feel Down The uncertainty is affecting plans to hire and decisions on investment and employee benefits, according to a new survey.

By Lindsay Friedman

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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Being a small-business owner ain't easy, and the current political climate ain't making it any easier.

According to Capital One's latest Spark Business Barometer -- a national study that assesses small businesses by tracking financial and economic conditions, hiring practices and plans -- researchers found a 9 percent drop in the last year alone in the number of owners who believe things are going "good" or "excellent."

Related: The 15 Most Profitable Small-Business Industries

Data was collected through the company's Spring 2016 Small Business Barometer Survey, involving analysis from ORC International. The telephone study featured a sample of 401 for-profit small businesses from the U.S. with revenues less than $10 million.

"Now is a critical time for small businesses as the country anticipates a change in leadership and new opportunities and challenges, such as market dynamics and new regulations and tax laws, which can have a significant impact on business results," says Keri Gohman, head of small-business banking at Capital One.

One of the biggest factors contributing to the lack in morale was the amount of uncertainty surrounding the upcoming election. In the study, one in four owners said the issue was their primary concern, unclear about tax policies, economic growth, increasing healthcare costs and altering regulations on a local and national scale.

The apprehension is already affecting business as plans to hire, investments and employee benefits decrease.

Related: Steps to Starting a Small Business

Fortunately, it's not all doom and gloom, as women and young business owners stay optimistic. Nearly half believe conditions will be stable moving forward and the majority say their business will actually be in better shape in just six months.

Morale could also improve if owners capitalized more on digital, analytic and social tools, which the study says only a small portion actually use. Others may also want to consider using a business credit card, which could offer a list of benefits, such as cash back, travel and business and tracking tools. Though the majority do actually have a card, only about 20 percent actually use it on a regular bases.

If that doesn't work, it couldn't hurt to throw in a joke or two at Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump's expense. You know, for morale's sake.

Wavy Line
Lindsay Friedman

Staff writer. Frequently covers franchise news and food trends.

Lindsay Friedman is a staff writer at Entrepreneur.com.

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