Last week, my colleague Derek Thompson listed 8 possible reasons why companies aren't hiring. But to know which of these reasons are most important, you would have to actually ask companies. The National Federation of Independent Businesses does that each month. It asks small businesses about their biggest problem and has been consistently finding that poor sales are their most significant obstacle to growth. Second and third are taxes and regulation. But what if you were to expand the size of companies a bit to mid-market firms?
Deloitte conducted a survey of these firms earlier this year as part of a report titled "Mid-market perspectives: 2011 report on America's economic engine" (.pdf). The mid-market segment consists of firms with annual revenues between $50 million and $1 billion. The segment is responsible for employing tens of millions of people, largely in the U.S. -- 53% have no workforce outside the country and just 18% of theses companies have more than 25% of their employees based abroad.
Here are the result for biggest obstacles to growth for mid-market companies, according to the 527 Deloitte surveyed:
The first two factors are clearly economic. In a sense, the bad economy is keeping itself down. Firms aren't sure they see sunnier days just ahead and demand remains weak. As a result, adding workers for growth is a hard sell.