As we look back on 2012, many small-business owners operated under uncertainty.
From potential new tax hikes in 2013 to rising health-care costs beginning in 2014, many entrepreneurs postponed key hiring and spending decisions on big-ticket items. Main Street—a traditional driver of new jobs and economic recovery—was at a standstill, and in some cases deteriorated.
Even after the November presidential race, anxiety about tax hikes and government spending cuts left many small companies paralyzed and wondering, "So what's actually changed?" So far not much. Congress remained locked in a stalemate about the pending "fiscal cliff."
"Since October, my business has dropped off 80 percent and I attribute that directly to the 'fiscal cliff' discussion and the economy," said Charlie Arnold a month ago. He has been running a power-washing business in Lewes, Delaware for 13 years. (Read more: Amid 'Fiscal Cliff' Stalemate, Main Street Deteriorates)
As the government deadlock drags on, we look back at some of the key issues faced by small-business owners, entrepreneurs and younger workers. Lending remained tight in 2012, while technology—from the proliferation of social media to questions about online deal websites such as Groupon—continued to transform upstarts.
(Read more: Five Key Issues Facing Small Business in 2013)