Small Business Optimism Is Tougher Than The Great Recession - InformationWeek

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6/18/2009
09:56 PM
Fredric Paul
Fredric Paul
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Small Business Optimism Is Tougher Than The Great Recession

In the face of the unrelenting torrent of bad economic news, leave it to small businesses to keep pushing. According to a new study, 70% still foresee growth in their business this year, and almost half of those actually plan to hire new workers!

In the face of the unrelenting torrent of bad economic news, leave it to small businesses to keep pushing. According to a new study, 70% still foresee growth in their business this year, and almost half of those actually plan to hire new workers!The Small Business Attitudes & Outlook Survey was conducted by Constant Contact, which sells email marketing and online surveys, in collaboration with the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE), SCORE and the Association of Small Business Development Centers (ASBDC). Despite the fancy names, I'm not sure I totally believe the results, but these days I'm willing to accept good news where ever I can find it.

And this survey delivers in that department. Asked about expectations for their business' growth in 2009, 47% said they expected to grow moderately, 23% expected significant growth, and 17% didn't look for any changes. Only 9% looked for moderate contraction and just 3% were worried about significant shrinkage. And of those who expected growth, 47% planned on hiring additional employees.

It wasn't all sweetness and light, though. Some 59% said business costs have increased, and only 9% said costs were down. Here's what they were paying more for:

optimism1

and here's what's gotten cheaper:

Optimism2

On the plus side, only 15% have resorted to layoffs to cut costs, while trimming operating costs (49%) and T&E (37%) were the most popular measures, followed by changing product offerings (31%), trimming marketing (29%) and cutting prices (26%).

But my personal favorite results come on the online side. Online resources consistently ranked just behind personal networking on staying up to date on their industry and getting help with their business.

Finally, it's not the credit crisis or the economy that small businesses fear most, but marketing. 71% cited reaching their audience with limited marketing resources as their biggest challenge, dwarfing the second place choice, the cost of doing business (45%). The Internet is helping here, too, with Web sites and e-mail marketing trailing only word of mouth in how small businesses find new customers. Social networking sites still trail a bit, with Facebook the most popular choice.

Download the full survey here.

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