Across the country, business establishments are getting smaller and leaner, and automation is replacing many routine jobs that once provided a stable middle-class income for millions of people. But enterprising skilled professionals in fields from photography to plumbing are adapting to broader economic transformation by starting their own businesses. The number of professionals who develop and use specialized skill sets in nonroutine trades has grown 34 percent in the past 15 years—and this trend is accelerating: Small firms have accounted for 60 percent of net new jobs since the recession.
Thumbtack helps businesses address this challenge by applying technology to connect skilled professionals to customers seeking their services to get things done.
Thumbtack’s annual Small Business Friendliness Survey is the largest continuous study of small business perceptions of government policy in the United States. This year, the fifth annual 2016 study reached 12,169 skilled professionals nationwide, including electricians, music teachers, wedding planners, wellness professionals, and others operating in a variety of industries. These entrepreneurs graded the public policies of their states and cities that affect small businesses.
Skilled professionals in the Lone Star State’s capital call Austin “an easy place to do business” and “a great place for startups.” For five years in a row, Austin has rated among the top cities in the United States in Thumbtack’s Small Business Friendliness Survey, thanks to above-average ratings from business owners on regulations and training programs.
Though Austinites are generally pleased with their city’s policy environment, they expressed some frustration with local government websites used for researching and registering new businesses, calling them “confusing” and rating them among the worst in the country. More than anything, they want to use these sites to be able to easily and quickly register their business when starting out as well as find useful info about operating a business in the area. Their advice to policymakers: Focus on informing and supporting businesses in addition to providing a strong regulatory environment.
- 30% want policymakers to lower or simplify taxes
- 62% are aware of training programs
- 29% are required to have a license or permit
- 40% want business development trainings
- 64% say licensing compliance is well-enforced
The top policy priorities in Austin revolved around regulations. Last year Austin was one of the highest rated cities in our survey with an A+ grade. This year a B grade on the primary concern—health and safety regulations—dragged down the city’s grade slightly.
Here’s how Austin did overall in 2016:
To learn about results for more states and city government, visit the Small Business Friendliness Survey.