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Despite Economic Woes, Business Owners Optimistic

Each day brings more bad news about the economy, but that hasn't dampened small business owners outlook about the prospects for 2009 -- the majority see opportunity.
Each day brings more bad news about the economy, but that hasn't dampened small business owners outlook about the prospects for 2009 -- the majority see opportunity.The only thing tighter than credit right now is good economic news. From plunging retail sales to climbing jobless claims it's gloom and doom. Heck, even Google's slicing headcount and the countdown clock has started ticking on a tax-free Internet.

Despite the grim news, it seems that smaller business owners are resolute in their optimism and view of 2009 as a year of opportunity: 60% of small business owners believe 2009 will be as good or better than 2008. This cockeyed optimism is among the findings of a survey just released by Microsoft and Elance -- 600 business owners participated in the online survey last month.

Not only do this happy bunch of small business owners see 2009 in a positive light, they claim to be putting dollars behind their belief in the coming year. When asked, 61% will hold the line or increase marketing budgets this year. (This begs the question: who are the 6 business owners who don't have a positive outlook, but are still maintaining or increasing their marketing spend -- let's call them pragmatists.)

Also among the findings: 90% of business owners claim to be happier running their own business than working for someone else. No surprise here, who doesn't want control of their own destiny. And though only 4% of business owners believe they'll shutter their establishment in 2009, 37% are concerned about "weathering the current economic storm."

Other findings in the survey centered on the need for consulting and contracting services and willingness to hire. No surprise as the survey was commissioned by Microsoft Office Live Small Business and Elance and the results released with the announcement of a new joint effort to promote a services market place.

Elance currently lists services from approximately 135,000 freelance creative and technology professionals and estimates that 55,000 small and midsize businesses have use the exchange. On the heels of the just announced Microsoft partnership, approximately 400 are qualified to provide services for Microsoft offerings, a number that will undoubtedly grow with Redmond's marketing muscle and a $50 credit toward marketplace services for Microsoft Office Live Small Business customers.