Owners of small businesses are making growth a priority, according to the Fall 2013 American Express OPEN Small Business Monitor. Of the 1,038 businesses with fewer than 100 employees surveyed, 52 percent said they are looking to expand, up from 44 percent in the spring. Thirty-two percent of entrepreneurs said growth is a top priority.
Additionally, 54 percent of owners will seek to expand their businesses by making capital investments – that’s up from 49 percent last year. Furthermore, 35 percent said they are planning to hire, which is a 6 percentage point increase from last year.
In general, business owners are more optimistic about the economy. Only 25 percent feel that current conditions reflect a recession, which is down from 30 percent in the spring and 36 percent last year. Fifty-six percent were optimistic about business prospects during the next six months. The results are consistent with Capital One’s Spark Small Business Barometer, which found a majority of owners are optimistic about the next 12 months.
More reliance on social media
Use of social media services like Facebook, Twitter and Yelp are increasingly utilized by small businesses. Although only 50 percent of respondents indicated that they use social media, the tools are being applied more extensively.
Of the owners who utilize social media for businesses, 72 percent said they use it to attract new customers, which is up from 57 percent last fall. Furthermore, 59 percent said they use the tools to drive sales, up from 46 percent a year ago.
But use of social media is not limited to boosting customer bases and conducting business. Many use applications to develop personal connections with consumers. Fifty-five percent of owners said they create dialogues with customers over their social media websites and 36 percent said they create communities where customers can talk to each other. Both are significant increases from last year – 24 percentage points and 11 percentage points, respectively.
Many of the owners who hope to make capital investments will be in need of financing. With the tightening of banks and delays in federal lending, some might consider this a difficult step. A small business lender, however, offers fast approval and minimal paperwork. The experts at National Funding can supply financing in as little as 24 hours. Small business owners should explore their financing options to find out which is right for them.