Small-business owners practice what they preach when it comes to supporting their local communities. According to the latest findings of the American Express OPEN Small Business Monitor, 70 percent of entrepreneurs say they purchase and source goods and services from other small businesses. Almost all (96 percent) small businesses are committed to supporting their local communities through different activities, such as donating to local causes (70 percent) and participating in community projects (49 percent). Additionally, 83 percent “shop small” (shop at independently-owned businesses in their neighborhoods) for purchases unrelated to their businesses.
“We should all draw inspiration from small businesses that remain steadfast optimists and loyal contributors to local communities and causes despite an economic environment that remains uncertain,” says Susan Sobbott, president of American Express OPEN. “Adversity is nothing new to the vast majority of entrepreneurs, and our research shows that while they have concerns about the near future, they have learned a great deal from recent trials and are better positioned to grow in the long term.”
Long-Term Optimism vs. Short-Term Realism
Small-business owners may have optimistic long-term views, they’re planning on making realistic short-term decisions. While more than half (54 percent) of small-business owners remain optimistic about their business prospects, the uncertain economy is still the top challenge to growth. Only half (50 percent) of small-business owners plan to increase capital investments over the next six months, on par with six months ago.
Entrepreneurs Get Satisfaction
However, in spite of the current economic prospects, entrepreneurs are still strong in spirit. A large majority of business owners (92 percent) say they are happy with their lives. Of these, more than three quarters (76 percent) say their happiness is somewhat or entirely due to being an entrepreneur. An increasing number say they would recommend entrepreneurship to a friend or family member (66 percent, versus 55 percent in fall of 2009), a significant shift from just three and a half years ago.
Hiring Remains Steady
While many business owners’ hiring plans are tempered by the realities of the economy, 31 percent plan to hire in the next six months, similar to last fall (29 percent) and last spring (35 percent), however, 35 percent say they do not need to hire in order to grow their businesses, which is up from last fall (24 percent) and last spring (26 percent).
Small Businesses Use Social Media to Foster Growth
Despite years of growth in the use of social media by small businesses, only 46 percent of business owners say they use a social media platform for their business, on par with this past fall (49 percent). Seventy percent say they use social media to attract new customers (up from 57 percent in the fall) and 44 percent use it to create a dialogue with customers (up from 31 percent in the fall).
Download a PDF of the Spring 2013 American Express OPEN Small Business Monitor.
Previous reports are available at the Small Business Monitor page.