Small businesses brace for election results

November 2, 2012: 10:45 AM ET

The candidates have offered starkly differently visions for the nation's future. Here's how some entrepreneurs are preparing.

By Elaine Pofeldt

FORTUNE – No matter who wins the election, Ted Devine isn't planning any radical moves for his business.

Devine, who is CEO of Insureon, an online commercial insurance agent based in Dallas, Texas that targets businesses with 10 employees or less, says the election will bring more certainty to the business community, but he thinks both candidates will help firms like his in their own way. "Both are very astute and understand how important small business is to creating jobs," he says.

During the past few years, many surveys have cited uncertainty as a major factor holding back small businesses -- a major engine of job creation in the economy -- from hiring. A mid-year survey by the National Small Business Association, an advocacy group based in Washington, D.C., found that 68% of respondents viewed uncertainty as the biggest challenge to the future growth and survival of their businesses.

However, with the presidential election looming, some of the ambiguity over where the country is heading will come to an end for small company executives like Devine. The two presidential candidates have offered significantly different visions for the nation's future, and the job-creating set will soon have a lot more clarity on where the nation's economic policies are headed.

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But will business owners actually rethink their strategies after they have a better idea of what they'll pay in taxes in the coming years, whether the Affordable Care Act will remain intact, and what will happen to other policies that may affect their overhead? And, most importantly, will they hire more workers?

According to a survey of more than 1,800 small business owners released in early October by Manta, an online community for entrepreneurs, 67% said they were optimistic about the outlook for their businesses after the election -- but 80% said they had not hired any employees in the past quarter. Among respondents, 47% planned to vote for Romney, compared to 35% for President Obama. However, President Obama's support was up by nine percentage points since August. More

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