3 Things You Should Know About Small Business: Oct. 10

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- What's happening in small business today?

1. Super-small-business owners favor Obama. Another day, another political poll about which presidential candidate is favored by small-business owners. Today's poll, released by SohoOS, a free online business-management tool for microbusiness owners and freelancers, says microbusiness owners (those with fewer than five employees or no employees at all) favor President Obama over Republican candidate Mitt Romney.

The survey polled 592 microbusiness owners. It was conducted between Oct. 3-9.

The survey found that 43% of microbusiness owners plan to vote for President Obama, compared with 35% for Romney. More than 70% cited the economy, taxes and health care as "very important" in their decision-making. Nearly 12% are undecided on their choice for president a month away from Election Day, the survey found.

"Small business has become a top topic in the U.S. presidential election," said Ron Daniel, founder and CEO of SohoOS. "So we sought to uncover the sentiment of the smallest businesses in America, from plumbers to photographers to jewelry makers to consultants -- businesses that have been hit hard in the past four years. There are 30 million of these 'microbusinesses' in the U.S. that have between one and five employees and are critical to the growth of the U.S. economy. They believe that Obama is the better choice for their businesses."

Interestingly, the majority of respondents also said they were frustrated with their local congressional representative. About 55% indicated that their U.S. senator and representative do not represent the interests of small businesses.

The SohoOS survey contradicts another recent poll by Wave Accounting in which the Romney/Ryan ticket was favored by small-business owners.

That survey polled its 1,331 U.S.-based Wave customers that were employed at or owned a small business with 10 employees or fewer, including solo entrepreneurs, consultants and freelancers, to get their opinions on each candidate's potential impact on small business.

2. EPA and USDA embrace small contractors. The Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Agriculture are two government agencies that are embracing small contractors. Under greater pressure by the Obama administration to secure contracts with small businesses, the two agencies have been able to break through some of the barriers that existed with this type of contracting and were highlighted by Federal News Radio.

Last year, nearly 70% of the EPA's subcontracts went to small firms and it exceeded its prime contract goal of 42%. Last year, the USDA reached its small-business contracting goal. More than 52% of prime contracts went to small businesses, according to the article.

The success of both agencies is partly due to greater internal awareness.

The EPA and USDA each have a specific "Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization" and use small-business specialists throughout the agencies, especially at the beginning of any project, the article says.

The Obama administration is also requiring greater accountability from the agencies. One example is senior executives' performance evaluations being tied to the agency's small-business contracting.

Another contributor to the success is increased outreach to potential partners, which is helpful to small companies looking to navigate the complex landscapes of each agency, the article says.

3. Small firm M&A rose in the third quarter. Small-business transactions rose 2.8% in the third quarter compared with the year-earlier quarter, according to BizBuySell.com, an online marketplace for business-for-sale transactions.

The number of transactions so far this year also remains above 2011 as the market continues its slow road to recovery, BizBuySell says.

Business brokers reported 1,189 closed business transactions versus 1,157 in the third quarter of 2011. The small bump helps negate the 1.6% drop in sales recorded in the second quarter of this year, continuing the trend of a gradual, yet bumpy, improvement in the business-for-sale marketplace since 2009.

"Over the past two years, we've seen similarly small increases in the business-for-sale market as economic conditions and overall business performance have improved," said Mike Handelsman, group general manager of BizBuySell.com. "This quarter's growth was likely assisted by sellers looking to exit their businesses before the anticipated increase in the capital gains tax rate at the close of 2012."

-- Written by Laurie Kulikowski in New York.

To contact Laurie Kulikowski, send an email to: Laurie.Kulikowski@thestreet.com.

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