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4/12/2010
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Small Businesses Confidence On The March

According to the findings of a new survey of small businesses owners, 70% expect growth in 2010 and almost 40% plan to hire additional employees.

According to the findings of a new survey of small businesses owners, 70% expect growth in 2010 and almost 40% plan to hire additional employees.A significant majority of small businesses hold a positive or neutral view of the economic outlook - 70% expect some level of growth in 2010. That's the leading finding of the Small Business Attitudes & Outlook Survey released today. The online survey, conducted by email marketing and online survey vendor Constant Contact in collaboration with the American Chamber of Commerce Executives, SCORE, and the Association of Small Business Development Centers, surveyed more than 6,800 US small business owners between February 22 and April 1.

Though the number of business owners expecting growth was decidedly positive, it's significant that the level of growth is hardly uniform. Only 18% expect significant growth (still almost a fifth) while 52% anticipate moderate growth and 20% see 2010 on a flat-line trajectory. That only 2% expect significant contraction and 1% anticipate closing down provides a sharper contrast to the recent spate of pessimistic survey data from the SMB segment.

But this survey data may indicate that we're now in the trough awaiting the next upward. Commenting on the findings, Constant Contact CEO and chairman, Gail Goodman, said, "Small businesses across the country were among the most heavily impacted by the economic downturn. However, the results of our survey suggest that we are starting to see a leveling-off effect that has these determined small business owners feeling more optimistic. The improving sentiment among small businesses is particularly encouraging, as these passionate and innovative small businesses are the organizations that have led the US economy out of past recessions. I encourage everyone to do their part and help support small businesses in their neighborhood."

Other notable findings of the survey included 50% who indicated the the cost of doing business has increased somewhat in the past 12 months with 26% seeing stasis and 15% significant increases. Materials and supplies were the leading category for cost increases, followed by marketing, taxes, product inventory, and employee benefits. As a result, more than half (57%) have reduced operating costs, 43% have cut marketing, travel, and entertainment, and 35% have changed product and service offering. Just less than a third (31%) have cut prices.

The full findings of the survey, including data about use of social media, government stimulus, and health care are available here.

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