While optimism among small business owners continues to increase, they aren’t taking risks and expanding their businesses accordingly. Linda McMahon, chief of the Small Business Administration says businesses are being held back because they can’t find skilled workers to fill open positions, and they’re having a hard time getting loans. In an interview last week, the SBA head also said business owners are still hesitant to expand due to uncertainty around regulations, taxes, and health care. According to McMahon, entrepreneurs are willing to take bigger risks than they have over the past eight years post-recession, but they still remain cautious. McMahon, who has been touring the country speaking to a variety of business owners, says many are looking to hire but cannot find the skilled workers they need. Industries like construction, manufacturing and technology especially are seeing a lack of interest and a lack of available trained workers. McMahon also acknowledged the increase in lending to small businesses since the Great Recession, but noted that banks need to level the playing field for small business borrowers, including better serving the needs of young businesses as well as female and minority business owners. The SBA is working on "making sure that our lenders understand what our expectations are relative to having women and minorities on equal footing when they come in" to apply for loans, McMahon said. The most recent Pepperdine Private Capital Access Index shows that only about a third of small businesses with revenue less than $5 million were able to get a bank loan in the first four months of 2017. The survey conducted by Pepperdine University in partnership with Dun & Bradstreet measures the demand of small and medium-sized businesses for financial needs, accessibility of private capital, and the transparency and efficiency of private financing markets. While the SBA’s budget will be decrease by 5 percent beginning Oct. 1, McMahon says the cut will not affect the agency’s programs or its ability to help small business owners. The administration plans to continue its efforts to persuade lawmakers to peel back regulations that make it harder for small businesses to access funding, particularly women- and minority-owned businesses.