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More than 400 small business owners responded to a survey by the Small Business Expo, resulting in the second installment of their bi-annual report. The purpose of the report is to better understand the economic challenges that small businesses across the United States face, as well as how they are coping with the challenges and enjoying the economic successes. Here are some highlights from the report; read Small Business Expo: Bi-Annual Trends Report online for more details.
Small Business Growth and Projections
Forty percent of respondents said that they grew 1 to 10 percent in 2017, while 25 percent said they experienced no growth in 2017. When looking ahead to 2018, about 30 percent expect to grow 1 to 10 percent, while 20 percent expect no growth. The majority of respondents said they “agree” that their confidence in their business has grown and they have a positive outlook on the year ahead.
Approximately 30 percent of respondents said they have less than 10 percent of female employees, while on the other end of the spectrum about 25 percent of respondents said that over 90 percent of their staff is female. In regard to workplace diversity, the majority of respondents remained neutral on whether or not workplace diversity is an issue in their particular industry.
Opinions on Federal Government
The vast majority of respondents said they either “strongly disagree” or “disagree” that the current U.S. administration supports small business and is trying to help small businesses succeed. Approximately one-third of respondents felt that they “strongly agree” or “agree” that the current administration supports small businesses.
Where Owners Spend Time
Thirty percent of respondents said they spend most of their time on Operations, which was the most frequent response. Next, about 27 percent said they engage in Marketing the most, and approximately 16 percent said they focus first on sales. Five percent or fewer respondents said they focus the most on Finance, HR, or IT.
What Impacts a Business
Respondents were asked to rank, from 1 to 10 with 1 being the least impactful and 10 being the most impactful, how each of the following things affected their business. The following is how small business owners responded; the first is what impacts them the most, and so on down the line:
2. Finding the right technologies
3. Hiring the right talent
4. Social media advertising
5. Retaining/motivating employees
6. SEO and getting in the top search results
7. Implementing technology
8. Accessible funding
9. Email marketing
10. Regulatory issues such as GDPR and net neutrality
Concerns over cashflow are the number one concern of small business owners, underscoring the importance of effective business cash advance and working capital solutions.
Impact of Online Stores
The vast majority of respondents “strongly agree” or “agree” that a “retail apocalypse” is occurring. Roughly the same amount felt that online retailers will be negatively affected by the Supreme Court ruling that allows states to collect sales tax on online purchases.
About one-third of respondents felt optimistic about the U.S. economy in the next 12 months; however, about two-thirds of respondents said they are optimistic about their business’ economic future over the next year. Many respondents shared that they feel they will have an impact on their local communities and that small business owners must always think outside of the box in order to survive and thrive.