3 Things You Should Know About Small Business: Feb. 12

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

1. Small-business owner confidence continues to drag. Small-business owner confidence continues to drag, according to the National Federation of Independent Business' Small Business Optimism Index.

The index nudged higher by 0.9 point to 88.9, but failed to regain the losses caused by last month's "fiscal cliff" scare. Owners are still pessimistic about business conditions, even though actual job creation and job creation plans improved nominally, the survey found.

The poll surveyed 2,033 small businesses in NFIB's membership throughout January.

"While corporate profits are at record levels as a share of GDP, small businesses are still struggling to turn a profit," says NFIB chief economist Bill Dunkelberg.

"With the dismal news that our economy actually contracted in the fourth quarter, it isn't any wonder that more small firms expect their real sales volumes to fall, few have plans to invest in new inventory, and hardly any owners are expanding or hiring," Dunkelberg says. "Owner pessimism is certainly not surprising in light of higher taxes, rising health insurance costs, increasing regulations and just plain uncertainty."

"The president will address the state of our nation tonight, but he apparently won't have much that's positive to relay to our small-business community -- not while the pall of uncertainty over economic policy continues to depress investment spending and growth," he adds.

2. Speaking of the State of the Union and small businesses ... President Barack Obama likes to give a lot of lip service to small businesses during State of the Union addresses. And while the president has announced big plans from the JOBS Act to health-care reform to immigration to taxes, among other issues important for business owners, it doesn't mean those pledges ever came to fruition. Ahead of Tuesday's address, Bloomberg Businessweek took a look at Obama's past #SOTU speeches to see how small business-related pledges have fared.

3. International Franchise Association releases its 2013 policy platform to accelerate job creation in franchising. Ahead of Obama's State of the Union address, the International Franchise Association released its 2013 Policy Platform on Monday. The policy recommendations are on behalf America's 825,000 franchise establishments, which support nearly 18 million jobs, $2.1 trillion in economic output and 3.4% of GDP.

Even though the franchise industry is expected to have modest growth this year (about 2%, which equates to 10,000 new establishments and 162,000 new jobs), "the franchise industry could grow more significantly, creating even more new jobs, if these policy changes were to be implemented," IFA CEO Steve Caldeira says.

"Washington should address the fundamental challenges facing our economy that are holding back growth in our sector, such as out-of-control government spending, the complexity of the tax code, our out-of-date immigration system and the costly and onerous aspects of the Affordable Care Act," Caldeira says.

The platform, which was delivered to the White House and sent to all members of Congress today, outlines six policy priorities that, if implemented, could accelerate job creation by franchise businesses, including taxes, health care, immigration reform, workforce policy, small-business lending and assisting more veterans to become franchisees.

-- Written by Laurie Kulikowski in New York.

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

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