It's a good thing most of us don't pay attention to the hyped-up "Great Depression" talk from some quarters. If we did, we'd have given up months ago in this uncertain economy.
Instead, the opposite seems to be happening. Small business owners are bouncing back -- a little.
According to the most recent American Express OPEN Economic Pulse survey from January/February 2009, there are budding signs that small business optimism is growing. Things are looking brighter.
The survey looked at perceptions of the economy, cash flow, hiring, access to credit, government economic intervention including the proposed stimulus package, and the entrepreneurial mindset. The result? Fewer small business owners are worried about going out of business and more expect to grow their businesses regardless of the economic climate, than in October.
Some other findings show small signs of optimism, too, when compared with previous surveys:
- Fewer businesses have been affected by the tightening of credit (50% in August 08, 63% in October 08 and 56% in January 09)
- Fewer businesses are accepting lower profit margins (56% in August 08, 58% in October 08 and 46% in January 09)
- Fewer business owners are stressed out over the state of the economy (55% in February 08, 71% in August 08 and 66% in January 09)
Still, all is not rose petals and sugar cubes. The survey found we are getting paid slower -- and we're more risk averse than we were a year ago.
Yes, everyone knows it's a tough economy -- even if we weren't being reminded of it every 30 seconds in the media.
But as one good friend of mine (himself a long-term business owner) asked last week at lunch: "When has it ever been easy to run your own business? It's not about 'easy'." He's right, it's not about "easy" for small businesses. There's always one challenge or another to deal with. Different day, different set of problems to overcome.
I think that's what my small business peers were saying in what I consider to be the best part of the survey -- where 80% of small business owners say they'd do it all over again, despite the challenges in the economy.
Here's to keeping our small businesses moving in a positive direction.