The words “Happy New Year” apparently ring true for many small-business owners right now.
A new survey suggests that the majority of small-business owners expect 2014 to be a good year. Though worries about Obamacare and political gridlock in Washington linger on, small-business owners overall have a rosier economic outlook for 2014, plan to hire more workers and expect better sales.
Executive-networking group Vistage International and The Wall Street Journal surveyed 937 small-business owners with $1 million to $20 million in annual revenues in mid-December and found that 38 percent expect business conditions to improve in the year ahead, compared with only 27 percent who felt that way a year ago. Nearly three-quarters of business owners expect better sales to increase this year and the majority expect higher profits.
The results suggest that small businesses’ fortunes have improved considerably since the financial crisis and many entrepreneurs are finally feeling optimistic (though somewhat cautiously) about the future. In fact the survey found that confidence levels reached an 18-month high among business owners in December.
"There's no doubt we're still in a hangover from the financial crisis," Dane Stangler, head of research at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, told WSJ. "But things look good in the short term," he says.
Another recent Gallup survey of small-business owners, however, didn’t find quite as much cheer about 2014—only 23 percent of those surveyed feel more optimistic about 2014 than they did 2013, while 28 percent feel less optimistic. The top concerns among business owners: overall U.S. economic health (12 percent), Obamacare (11 percent) and gridlock in federal government (11 percent).
"Some of small-business owners' lack of optimism may be borne out of their concern about factors over which they have little direct control, including the economy, the government and the implications of the rollout of the new healthcare law," a news release about the survey notes. "Other concerns are more direct, including basic issues that are part of their competitive environment such as their ability to attract new customers and to find and retain good employees.”
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