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Despite Views On The Economy, Small Business Owners See Themselves As Largely Successful



  Despite Views On The Economy, Small Business Owners See Themselves As
  Largely Successful

Cite slow economic growth, taxes and uncertainty with federal regulations as
risks

CEO McGee, speaking at Detroit Economic Club, calls for actions to spur small
business growth and encourage hiring

Business Wire

HARTFORD, Conn. -- October 18, 2012

The Hartford 2012 Small Business Success Study, released today, reveals that
one-third (33 percent) of small business owners are optimistic that the
national economy will strengthen this year, down from more than half (61
percent) reported in the company’s spring 2012 study. Despite their economic
outlook, most small business owners believe their business is successful in
2012. Sixty-eight percent of owners stated they are moderately to extremely
successful, largely consistent with 2011 results.

Buck Buchanan, Owner, Lumpy's Ice Cream (Photo: Business Wire)

Buck Buchanan, Owner, Lumpy's Ice Cream (Photo: Business Wire)

The second annual study found that slow economic growth (67 percent), taxes
(59 percent) and uncertainty with federal regulations (56 percent) are viewed
as major risks by small business owners. But owners report finding ways to
take advantage of the slower economy by cutting costs (80 percent),
strengthening existing client relationships (76 percent), prospecting for new
clients (69 percent) and refining their business strategy (65 percent). Cost
cutting actions include taking less money out of the business (68 percent),
investing less in expansion (57 percent), reducing owner/partner compensation
(52 percent) and hiring fewer employees (50 percent).

“Small businesses are the foundation of the American economy. If we can
restore their confidence in the future, they can hire, add jobs and help fuel
growth,” said Liam E. McGee, chairman, president and chief executive officer
for The Hartford. “The good news is that there are solutions that can help
eliminate uncertainty around the tax and regulatory environment, and encourage
small businesses to hire. While many small business owners clearly have
concerns, they are resilient and dedicated to doing the right things for their
businesses and employees.”

Obstacles to Growth

Three in four small business owners (77 percent) say it is likely that their
taxes will go up. If those expectations are met, owners say they will offset
the impact by passing along costs to customers (66 percent), delaying
expansion plans (58 percent), reducing personal investments in their business
(55 percent) and stopping hiring (54 percent). Just three in 10 (28 percent)
say they would cut existing staff.

The study finds that more than half of small business owners have not hired in
the last 12 months (59 percent) and two-thirds do not intend to hire in the
next 12 months (67 percent). About half of owners (52 percent) are simply
trying to maintain their revenue and number of employees at the current level.
Fewer than half (41 percent) of small businesses are focused on growth, a
decline of 10 percentage points from 2011.

Interestingly, 33 percent of those surveyed do not take advantage of tax
incentives or deductions, primarily because they don’t know what they are (37
percent) or they do not qualify (35 percent).

McGee Speaks at Detroit Economic Club

McGee is speaking about the study and its implications later today to
approximately 200 attendees at the Detroit Economic Club.

In his remarks, McGee says that he is deeply impressed with the city’s
resolve, resilience and revitalization efforts. “Your city is working to
diversify its economy by catering to young entrepreneurs and seeing small
businesses take root around the city, including a growing tech community,”
said McGee. “Despite the difficulties confronting America, we can face reality
with a sense of optimism. Entrepreneurs and small businesses do this every
day.”

In The Hartford’s Small Business Success Study, Detroit owners report being
more optimistic that the national economy will improve than the national
average (53 percent in Detroit; 33 percent nationally) and are more focused on
growing their businesses than maintaining them than their counterparts
nationally (51 percent in Detroit; 41 percent nationally).

“I think it’s important to retain and apply the optimism that has historically
defined America. At this fragile time in the nation’s recovery, it’s
imperative that we do everything possible to help our entrepreneurs succeed,
and to encourage more people to become entrepreneurs. Successful entrepreneurs
and small businesses are the way out of the slow economy and toward renewal.
They make our country great and are key to restoring the American dream,”
added McGee.

Definition of Success: Profits and Passions

Study results show that passion and profitability are both essential to small
business success, with greater emphasis on the bottom line this year than
last. When asked what success means to them, owners note the following as
important:

                                                     2012           2011
To make enough money to have a comfortable           85 percent     79 percent
lifestyle
To increase the profitability of the business        81 percent     77 percent
To do something I feel passionate about or enjoy     81 percent     82 percent
To pay my employees enough money for them to         70 percent     72 percent
have a comfortable lifestyle
To have the free time to do whatever I wish          61 percent     61 percent
To make a lot of money                               59 percent     46 percent

With a focus on the bottom line, small business owners are assuming a more
measured approach to their business. When asked to rate the overall level of
risk they are currently taking, 73 percent indicate they are conservative,
while 27 percent rate themselves as risk takers.

Nearly 30 years ago, The Hartford became the first insurer to have a business
unit focused on small business. Today, The Hartford has more than one million
small business insurance policies nationwide, across 96 percent of U.S.
counties.

For more information on The Hartford 2012 Small Business Success Study, visit:
www.thehartford.com/successstudy.

2012 Small Business Success Study Methodology

The Hartford Small Business Success Study was developed by The Hartford and
fielded via telephone by Braun Research from Aug. 2 – 14, 2012. The nationally
representative sample consisted of 2,004 small business owners of companies
with fewer than 100 employees and annual revenue of $100,000 or more that have
been in business for at least one year. There is a margin of error of +/-2.19%
and results are reported at the 95 percent confidence level.

Small Business Pulse Methodology

The Hartford Small Business Pulse is a complementary survey to the annual
Small Business Success Study. The survey was developed by The Hartford and
fielded via telephone by Braun Research from February 29 — March 6, 2012. The
nationally representative sample consisted of 1,004 small business owners of
companies with fewer than 100 employees and have been in business for at least
one year. The margin of error is +/-3.1 percent for the national sample, +/-4
percent for the male sample and +/-6 percent for the female sample with a 95
percent confidence level.

About The Hartford

The Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. (NYSE: HIG) is a leading provider
of insurance and wealth management services for millions of consumers and
businesses worldwide. The Hartford is consistently recognized for its superior
service, its sustainability efforts and as one of the world’s most ethical
companies. More information on the company and its financial performance is
available at www.thehartford.com. Join us on Facebook at
www.facebook.com/TheHartford. Follow us on Twitter at
www.twitter.com/TheHartford.

HIG-C

Some of the statements in this release may be considered forward-looking
statements as defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995.
We caution investors that these forward-looking statements are not guarantees
of future performance, and actual results may differ materially. Investors
should consider the important risks and uncertainties that may cause actual
results to differ. These important risks and uncertainties include those
discussed in our Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, our 2011 Annual Report on
Form 10-K and the other filings we make with the Securities and Exchange
Commission. We assume no obligation to update this release, which speaks as of
the date issued.

Photos/Multimedia Gallery Available:
http://www.businesswire.com/cgi-bin/mmg.cgi?eid=50445036&lang=en

Multimedia
Available:http://www.businesswire.com/cgi-bin/mmg.cgi?eid=50445036&lang=en

Contact:

The Hartford Financial Services Group Inc.
Michelle Loxton, 860-547-7413
michelle.loxton@thehartford.com
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