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Small Businesses' Biggest Problem

The single most important problem for small business in America: Sales are too low.

The finding — from the latest monthly survey by the National Federation of Independent Business — sounds like a dog-bites-man sort of problem. Wouldn't businesses always say sales are the key issue?

But the NFIB has been doing the survey for decades, and sales never took the top spot until 2008, when the economy fell apart and consumers retrenched. It's been the top pick ever since.

Over the years, taxes were a popular choice for the single most important problem. Labor quality made a run around the turn of the century when unemployment was ultra-low, making it hard for bosses to find workers. Insurance, regulation and inflation have also had their moments over the years.

Here are the survey results, spread over two charts:

Small Business Problems
NFIB
Small Business Problems
NFIB